By Gary Anderson

September 11 - Former hockey international Sarah Powell has been named as the first female chief executive of Sport WalesSport Wales has announced the appointment of former Welsh hockey captain Sarah Powell as the organisation's first female chief executive, replacing Huw Jones who retired earlier this year.

Powell, who will officially take up her post in October, has been involved in sports administration for 15 years and is currently a non-Executive Board member of the Commonwealth Games Council for Wales (CGCW).

As a hockey player she made more than 70 international appearances, including at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games, and following her retirement she took up a role coaching the Welsh under-18 hockey team.

"Becoming chief executive officer is an immense honour, and a privilege," said former school teacher Powell.

"Recent sporting successes show that our great sporting nation has the potential to be a leading light in the world, not just in terms of international success and medals won, but in terms of the life opportunities we can offer to every one of our children.

"I am incredibly proud to have been entrusted with this responsibility.

"I will be presenting my vision and plans for sport shortly.

"Clearly there are financial challenges on the horizon, but I am confident we will demonstrate the power of sport in improving the lives of Welsh people.

"Whether we're aiming for greater success or making sure every child has a quality, fun and engaging experience of sport at school, everyone can be assured I will be striving to create a more physically active nation where exercise is valued and enjoyed by all."

Powell left the teaching profession and joined the Sports Council for Wales where she subsequently became head of the performance and excellence department, developing and implementing the Wales' Elite Sports Strategy in the lead up to London 2012 which saw a record 30 athletes from Wales included in the Team GB squad.
Sarah Powell will hoping to build on the recent success of Welsh athletes, such as Jade Jones who won taekwondo gold at London 2012Sarah Powell will hoping to build on the recent success of Welsh athletes, such as Jade Jones who won taekwondo gold at London 2012

In all, Welsh athletes secured seven medals at the London Olympics, including golds from Geraint Thomas in cycling, Tom James in rowing and Jade Jones in taekwondo.

Fred Evans, Chris Bartley and Hannah Mills also won boxing, rowing and sailing silvers respectively, while Sarah Thomas bagged a bronze as part of the British women's hockey team.

It was a similar story in terms of the 2012 Paralympics, with 38 athletes from Wales taking part, winning a total of 14 medals, including golds for cyclist Mark Colbourne and discus thrower Aled Davies.

"Sarah was the outstanding candidate from an impressive and strong international field of candidates," said Sport Wales chair Laura McAllister.

"She has a depth of knowledge and expertise, and a strong reputation in sport on the UK and international stages, as well as in Wales.

"Her energy and vision was compelling.

"It was that passion which impressed us, alongside her understanding of all aspects of sport and physical activity.

"I am convinced that she will drive even greater success for sport in Wales and Sport Wales, in the coming years."

Powell has worked closely with national governing bodies in Wales during her role with the Welsh Sports Association and was also a Board director of Ryder Cup Wales Limited when the country hosted the biennial golf tournament at Celtic Manor in 2010.

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