Nicola Haines Jones
I was always very sporty at school but preferred to try out every sport going, rather than concentrating on any one activity. Although did have an early dabble with Abertillery Achilles Club in my late teens and thanks to Neville Whitehouse gained a Welsh Schools Vest for X country at the age of 17.
My love of sport and the outdoors led me to go onto complete a degree in PE and Geography at Chester College and later a Postgraduate in PE Geography at Loughborough University. Whilst at College / Uni I again tried out a variety of sports but started to become more interested in Hockey, Athletics and Outdoor Pursuits.
My first teaching job saw me moving up to the Midlands to teach in Kidderminster, feeling somewhat isolated I literally flipped a coin to decide whether to join an athletics or hockey club. The winner was Stourport Athletics club in 1988. My athletics career had began. Under the watchful eye of coach Bob Ashworth I started to develop as a Middle Distance Runner and achieved my first Welsh Senior Vest in Cross Country, in 1989 in a match against the Army/RAF and Police at Chepstow.
From 1989 to 2000 I managed to compete for Wales at Senior level nearly every single year without fail (had a year out in 1995 to give birth) amassing approximately 40+ caps in total, predominantly on the road and country , but also a handful of Indoor and Outdoor Track meets and 2 European Trophy Mountain Championships in Austria/Italy.
On moving back to Wales in late 1990 I joined Newport Harriers and coached by Mike Adams , achieved many of my pb’s and major achievements in my 20s early 30s and beyond on a diet of quality training, rarely going above 40 miles a week, training just once a day and always having at least 1 rest day a week. A philosophy which I still very much try to engender in athletes, quality not quantity is the name of the game for distances up to and including 10k. Newport ladies were extremely strong at the time, this enabled me to compete in numerous European Clubs Road and X country championships, travelling around Europe alongside the Welsh greats of the era Sally Lynch, Hayley Nash, Carol Hayward to name but a few. Also to stand on the start line with many renowned European Runners most notably Manuela Machado (World Marathon winner 1995) and Carla Sacramento World Championships 1500m gold medallist 1997, and somebody called Paula Radcliffe, unfortunately none of these ladies ever hung around to wait for me but “I woz there”.
After Newport I competed for Neath Harriers where along with Francis Gill and Louise Copp we gained a bronze medal in the British Masters Road Relay Champs V35 age category and a Silver medal in the British X country relays at Millfield. Then onto Lliswerry where unfortunately due to injuries and work commitments had a very quiet few years.
A promise I made to myself was that the first year I failed to make the Senior Welsh Team I would retire from competing, complete my Coaching qualification and do the London Marathon for Charity. Start giving back to the sport that has given me so much enjoyment, fulfillment and lasting friendships.
I helped to set up Blaenau Gwent Athletics Club in 2007 and coached there as Head of Endurance off and on until 2016 with nearly all of the athletes I coached gaining Regional vests for track and X country . Since 2016 I have been one of the Team Managers for Welsh Road/X- country teams.
Regrets I have none, disappointments a few, I never quite made a major games such as the Commonwealths, but running has never taken over my life, never been the be all and end all, just a hobby that I happened to be quite good at. I have always prioritised my family and enjoyed life to the full pursuing my other sporting interests alongside athletics to the exasperation of my coaches.
If there’s a mountain on the horizon it needs to be climbed, I love nothing more than roaming the hills and mountains of Wales and Scotland, there’s a few in England that aren’t bad also. My aim now that I am semi retired is to spend time in the Pyrenees and Alps ticking off the major peaks.
I started to help out with coaching track sessions at Parc Bryn Bach RC in September 2017, and intend this to be my final resting place in terms of Athletics Clubs. I hope very much to be able to help the club to continue to grow from strength to strength. There is no greater satisfaction in seeing/helping athletes whatever age or ability enjoying sport, making improvements and reaching their goals.
Marathon: Got around without walking !! More importantly raised £1000.00 for Velindre. 2007
British Colleges Track Championships 800m Silver medalist 1986
Welsh Senior 3000m Track , Champion Colwyn Bay
Welsh Senior 10k road champion Swansea 1999
Welsh Senior 5k road champion
Runner up Welsh X country Championships Swansea 1989
British Inter counties X country 18th 1989
Most treasured moment… Winner of Cardiff 10k 2010 , entering the Millenium stadium to the sound of the brass band playing as I came up the tunnel and into the ground.
12th Dublin mini marathon 10k, 35,000 women only runners
Senior Ladies Gwent X Country Champion 1991/1994
Silver British Masters 5 mile champs 1999 V35 category.
11th World Masters Mountain Running Champs Betwys Y Coed 2015