Athlete’s Stories

At Newport Harriers, we love to share the success of our athletes.

Please find below stories of our athlete’s journeys…

JOE BERRY - Youth Commonwealth Games trinbago 2023

This youth commonwealth games was never on my mind, I only found out about it towards the start of the winter training season in September. Last season I got injured after not being selected for the U18 European Championships and got selected for 100m reserve. However I was annoyed and disheartened by the injury and not getting selected, so having this idea of the youth commonwealth games was exciting and gave me motivation to get back to training. It was on my mind for the entire of the winter season, When I finally got selected it made me feel relieved and all the hard work had paid off. Moving on a few weeks when Team Wales had a team day with all the sports together, it was just how I imagined when thinking about it all the months previous. Meeting everyone was great, meeting new coaches and new teammates who I would be surrounded by for the next 2 weeks. Once we left there was no tuming back and from then I realized that it’s all real. Everything started kicking in and once I got on the plane I was very excited Looking forward to finding out what it’s like doing a major competition abroad Once we got to the airport we were welcomed by the locals and the volunteering staff, it was all pretty surreal like what you see off of T.V. We had a bus to take us to the hotel. We all got on and made our way, Passing the views and local settlements, we made it to the hotel. It was huge and all looked really fancy, Was a bit of a shock while coming into the hotel to see armed officers spread across the doors, obviously there to protect us but it wasn’t like anything I’ve seen before. Once we got up to our rooms it was so surreal opening the door to my room, which I shared with one of my teammates. It was a big room with a huge TV and a massive window looking over the sea. With Welsh flags spread across the two double beds and nice goodluck things given from team wales. It was quite cool as our room and the room next door had a connecting door which to our excitement meant all 4 of us mates were able to see each other. This was a great way to get to know each other as the door was open almost all the time. It gave a really good team feeling and stressed the aspect that everyone was in it together, we were always supporting and there for each other. Landed in Trinidad and Tobago a few days before competition it gave us the opportunity to acclimatize to the heat and humidity.


We all had around 5 days before the first day of competition started the first day for me was my 100m. The day after we got there, we left early in the morning because otherwise it was way too hot. Around 8-9am we were at the track which was only 10 minutes away. Yet it took a while sometimes because we had to wait for buses to take us. It was a big stadium with a warm up track outside. It was very hot and was a heat trap, fuckily they had lots of tents for us all to use as shade while warming up and training They also gave us big tubs of ice water with drinks in, which were scattered around the warm up areas. The first few training days were a total shock to the system because it was heat and humidity I have never experienced before. The amount of water we all had to go through a day to keep hydrated was crazy. But around day 71 had gotten used to the heat. Annoyingly this meant for the 100m I was struggling with the heat. The first few training days were fun because I wasn’t stressed and could enjoy it. Meeting new people and seeing all the other athletes was all really good. It helped just getting used to the warm up track and comfortable with it. However the heat was a lot especially in the mornings, so humid and sticky I remember running from the bus upstairs to have a cold shower and cool down. Keeping hydrated was crucial. As everyday went I started to feel the nerves and anticipation sink in. Every night we had a team meeting at 8pm, each meeting went by and everyone got more serious.. The night before the 100m was a strange feeling there was a lot of nervous energy in the air, because almost everyone had an event the day after. It was all our first and everyone was feeling differently. I usually get less nervous closer to the event but this was different. I was confident and excited but was also anxious about getting out and competing with so many talented athletes on a scale I haven’t experienced. We had to be up very early as my heats were around 9am which is way earlier than anything i’m used to. So we had our team meeting at 8pm and after saying a few words and getting a debrief of our team managers. My roommate and I had to be asleep a lot earlier than.

My 200m wasn’t until 5.30pm and the relay was around 6.30pm so I had a decent amount of time to relax before I had to leave. Once we left. I knew my body was broken from the long season and the busy week with the amount of runs. Yet I just said if give it my best. Once we got into the final call room and we were walking out it felt as if I had imagined. All the hard work for this one race. Walking out feeling as if I was one of the professionals. I had no expectations on that final and the main goal was to get to it a year young. When the gun went off the first time we got called back. Then the 2nd time. Then the 3rd time, the Indian runner in lane 1 was taking ages to get into his blocks so kept having to restart which was annoying to have to psych yourself up for a commonwealth final 4 times in the space of a few minutes. But the gun went and I had a great bend but as soon as it merged into the straight I tried to go again. But my legs were gone and I didn’t have anything left. Finished 7th Overall in the commonwealth which I was chuffled about. But as soon as that was done. Time for the relay. So rushed back to the warm up track a bit angry and disappointed to go and prove myself with the relay and do well as a team and bring home a medal. We were confident and excited. We got onto the track and split up from our teammates saying our last words of goodluck to each other before leaving. Seeing my teammate on the first leg. Getting ready hearing the crowd go crazy and the roar from the crowd as the Trinidad and Tobago team were announced BANG. The gun went off Seeing him come round the bend at speed, when he hit our mark I sprinted off. I Held my hand out but it didn’t feel the baton and in a matter of seconds we had run out of the box. Shocked in disbelief and not sure what had happened. But instead of moaning about it, we are a team and no matter what happens we all should support each other. So sometimes it’s all learning curves and I want everyone to know that. It feels awful but these things are good for experiences Good it’s now and not in 5 years if I was at the world champs or something. But it was miserable having to end the fantastic days with that. Not a feeling I would like to experience again. 

Sometimes you have to put aside your feelings and make sure your friends, teammates are okay. Because that is more important it happens to the best even the professionals. The journey home was bleak but there’s no point sulking, what’s done is done. We were allowed in the pool for the first time so the whole team went there and that was great to just have fun and all the stress was over. Looking back I miss the competition but at that moment I just wanted to have fun. We also after 10 days of healthy food were given fried chicken, burgers, ice cream and it was amazing. Felt great, except our bodies weren’t used to that food so it gave us some issues later on…. But to our excitement the next day we were waking up at 5am. Not so fun. Yet we were going to the other island Tobago for our closing ceremony. Sa we had to get up early and get on a ferry. Once we got there it was exciting to see all the countries there from all the sports. The hosts were great and Trindad and Tabogo made it very entertaining with good music and also the chance to trade kit with people. I remember trading with St Kitts, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Namibia, Northern Island, Jersey and Lesotho. A great experience to meet new people and get a feel for the complete commonwealth atmosphere. It was a great day out in the closing ceremony. When we got home we were one of the only counties left other than England and the northern island in our hotel with Kenya and Lesotho also there. The day after the closing ceremony we were allowed to go to the beach so as the Welsh team we all went and it was amazing. The views of the sea and the beach were beautiful with the water being so warm. The long journey up rocky mountains and through forests to get to this quiet beach, We also tried shark which was actually quite nice. We all had fun on the beach then headed home and relaxed in the pool. It was good because this was one of the only times we were able to talk to

usual so we were both in tied around 9:30 pm because we had to wake up around 6am to have food and catch the bus to the stadium. We had 2 call rooms while we were out there meaning I had to be in the call room 50 minutes before then call room 2 around 20 minutes before the race. So the warmup had to start a lot earlier than I would have wanted Warming up at 7am was not fun. But when I finished the warm up and was waiting to be called the nerves were creeping in, and after talking to my teammate and team manager. There was no hiding and I had to go and perform Once I had been called and I was sitting in the first call room. It was a basic building with air conditioning, thankfully. It was pretty relaxed as all the athletes for the 100m crammed in Seeing all the different countries and the size and confidence of the other athletes was intimidating at first. When we got to the second call room that’s when the atmosphere got very intense and me and all the other athletes started to get into the zone ready to perform. I don’t forget the feeling of being in the last heat hearing the crowd and everyone else go out before I did and it was nothing quite like it. As I got called out and got into my blocks it was a feeling of nerves and excitement, I remember the cheer from some of the welsh squad and families as my name was called and felt amazing. with the camera in your face felt like you were at the real commonwealth games. All remember was hopping into my blocks and the bang of the gun and in a flash the race was done. I finished 4th in my heat which I was happy about qualifying for the semi finals. I was there for the 200m really so I wasn’t too worried about what happened in the 100m and to just take it race by race. My teammate also made it through, on the way home me and him were excited and happy to be in the semi finals and had a ferr hours to kill before the semi final started. Warming up for the semi final was scary but exciting. I realized deep down the final was out of reach so I went out there soaked up all the atmosphere and just did my best finishing 12th overall in the commonwealth. The next day I had a day off and was relaxing as much as I could and doing everything to recover for my 200m which was in a few days. So the next day all I did was recover things and chill out with my friends to try and take my mind off things. Thankfully after fully acclimatizing, I was feeling great and I just was on my own for a few hours manifesting everything and thinking about home. I made a few calls to family and coaches and realized I should enjoy myself. I’m a year young and should go out and just have fun. Which is what I did and my mindset was so much stronger.

 I was confident and excited yet relaxed and wanted to prove myself and represent my county I was racing a lot of big names and fast people but instead of being intimidated like in the 100m. I told myself you’re here for a reason and they are no better than you. It is all 310 what happens on the day. Who wants it more? So warming up I had my music in my coaches around me and teammates there to support me and felt really good Nothing was quite like the amount of support I received while I was there. Being called up into the call room I had the 3rd ranked in the commonwealth in my race but I just told myself to go out and give nothing to him. Walking out to the blocks I was excited and full of confidence. I wasn’t going to let anyone beat me in this race. The gun went and i got out hard leading around the bend before being overtaken I was surprised and this guy met me ahead and wasn’t expecting this situation so kept my cool and tried to do as Ittle as possible to finish the race in top 2 and I did. It felt amazing to comfortably qualify and I was ready for the semi finals. After catching up with my mates it was time to go home, recover and get back into the zone. Felt like a minute before I was back on the bus to the track. This time I was a little more nervous as it was a top 2 qualifying and on paper I was 3rd. A Nigerian runner and a Northern Irish runner, but I told myself again anything can happen and to just run for my life basically. I was blind in lane 7 with the 2 other fastest inside me. I just ran for my life cruising round the bend and held some energy back as I knew the 2 people were good finishers and came off the bend and gave & everything I had. The tall figure of the Nigerian meant I couldn’t see anyone else on my left hand side. Until he started to pull away and the last 5 meters I saw I had beaten the Northem ireland runner. The feeling of relief and pure happiness hit me and screamed after passing the line. I had done it and qualified automatically to the final Before I could run to my mates my coach rushed me back to the bus to get to the hotel immediately and get into an ice bath before I knew it I was having ice chucked over me. It was not fun. Yet because the next day I had the 200m Final then 50 minutes later the mixed 4x100m final this was the best option for my recovery. Once got out of the ice bath I rushed back to my room to see my teammate who congratulated me. Then I headed down for dinner around 9pm and ate as fast as I could and went straight to bed. Excited for the day to come. My teammate and I woke up and went down to breakfast to discuss the relay. I was pretty stressed as the continued stress and excitement from the day before, felt like I didn’t get a break but had to snap into focus and remember why I’m there and all the nights at Newport training as hard as I could and doing it for everyone back at the club and home

everyone, such as people from other sports. Then the next day we went home on the plane and it was great to be back home. I just want to say a thankyou to everyone at Newport Harriers that has helped me to get there and there isn’t a better club. Made so many memories there and will make a lot more. A few more club records to beat. Special Thanks to Eric Oram, Sian, Jean and Jane, Sarah, Kev Eley, Kev Williams for coaching me since I started and to everyone else at Newport looking after me. As well as this to any young Newport Harrier it is possible. You just have to work hard, keep your head up and learn. You have to go down to get back up and reach that goal.


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