This week Bill Carne talks to Kieron Davies, who is a Welsh champion time trialist in cycling and teaches at Fenton School in Haverfordwest, about the way he has overcome sporting adversity to gain success . . .

Kieron Davies is living proof of the adaptability of sports men and women because after damaging his leg as a talented young athlete and rugby player he eventually switched to cycling and is now the Welsh 25 mile time-trials champion and aiming for a top-five place in the British 50mile event.

Kieron is currently a teacher at Fenton Primary School in Haverfordwest and despite is commitment there still tries to cycle as often as he can during the summer months, even if it is for a short time – and in the winter he uses a static trainer in his garage at home.

“I do short sprints,” said Kieron, “mainly aerobic exercise and cardio-vascular work, usually in three-minute segments.”

At this time of year, if he’s not competing on weekends (which is rare), he can be found out on his bike, with a four-hour low tempo ride on a Saturday where he aims to build up his base threshold and then a two-hour ride on Sundays where he aims for a higher tempo.

“A typical weekend run might start at St Clears,” Kieron told us, “and then on to Llanddowror, across to Tavernspite and from there back to Templeton and then Carew before facing the uphill trek from Milton across to Lamphey.

“I then cycle to Tenby on the back roads, through Pentlepoir and Kilgetty, up and down more hills to Narberth and then a gentle run back to St Clears.

“That’s about 44 miles and it’s an interesting run,” says Kieron with typical understatement!

Cycling is certainly a long way from those heady days as a teenager where he played rugby at Queen Elizabeth Maridunum School in Carmarthen and was chosen as full back or centre for Wales Schools VX. He went on a sports scholarship to Coleg Sir Gar and played alongside current Welsh internationals like fly half Rhys Priestland and hooker Ken Owens in Carmarthen Athletic’s successful youth team and was a Scarlets academy player

Kieron was also a useful athlete who represented his school, county and Carmarthen Harriers, where he was coached by Steve Parks, who was the British 4x100 metres relay coach, and at 13 Kieron won the Welsh title in a then-record time of two minutes four seconds.

But all that changed dramatically when Kieron played rugby for Carmarthen Quins against Builth Wells on the final Saturday of the season in the National League set-up and he tried to side-step through the cover defence - but his body went one way and his knee went the other before he went down in an agonised heap.

He tore his ligaments badly and had to have his cartilage removed – and at 19 years of age a promising rugby career and athletics involvement was brought to an abrupt end!

“When I was recuperating I was hoping to play rugby again and needed to maintain fitness as I was getting too big from the weights so I bought a bike. I was 15 stone at that time and met Emyr Griffiths at a sprint triathlon when supporting my father. Emyr invited me for a ride one evening and although I experienced a lung explosion and felt I nearly died - I was hooked!

Being involved has certainly worked because Kieron is now a super-fit 11.5 stone or so and totally committed to his cycling.

It is an association with cycling that has continued apace, with a competitive debut in the Builth Wells area where he turned up as a complete novice but looking resplendent in his newly-acquired kit.

“And I was totally taken aback by the fact that I seemed to be the only man with hairy legs since all the other competitors had shaven theirs!

“I couldn’t believe it,” admitted Kieron, “but I learned that day not to judge a book by its cover because there were some excellent cyclists there and I was soon trailing in their wake.”

We felt forced to ask the obvious question at that stage and the answer – yes he does now!

In his first 25-mile time trial Kieron came a creditable sixth in a time of 56 minutes 36 seconds and a measure of his improvement since he started shaving his legs can be gauged from the fact that his personal best is now down to 48 minutes and eight seconds – and by the end of this racing season has set himself the challenge of a further reduction to about 47 minutes.

Ask Kieron about support and he would be quick to mention his parents Eirwen and Phillip, who played rugby for South Wales Police alongside Bleddyn Bowen in his younger days, for their support alongside his partner and soon wife-to-be Olivia, who keeps fit and also cycles.

“My parents were brilliant taxi drivers,” admitted Kieron; “then there’s Emyr Griffiths, who introduced me to cycling, and Nick Brown, who has helped me with coaching and encouraged me all the way, plus everyone at Bynea Cycling Club.”

During his involvement there have been successes almost too numerous to mention with open wins, and course records.

In 1911 he completed the coveted double of being Welsh champion in both the 10 and 25 miles time trials, doubling up the following year in the 10-mile trial and repeating his 25-mile success this season, which was a real boost after the disappointment of not winning either in 2013, coming third in the 10 miles time trial.

“My win this year came in the Neath/Aberdulais area and my time of 48 minutes 22 seconds put me 90 seconds ahead of anyone else, which was great.”

But there was something to celebrate last season because he broke into the top ten of cyclists in the British time trials as he came ninth in the Blue Riband event of 25 miles and one place better in the 50 miler.

Ask Kieron about ambitions and he would list gaining a medal in the British time trials at 10, 25 and 50 miles and also to be chosen to represent Wales in a future Commonwealth Games.

“Now that would be fantastic,” says Kieron, “but perhaps doubtful with my commitment to cycling.

“But I’ll keep doing my best and enjoying my cycling as much as I do now.”

One only has to chat to him for a short while to see how committed and focussed Kieron Davies is with regard to his cycling and we are quietly confident that we will hear a lot more yet about this modest young teacher from Fenton School in Haverfordwest, who sets an example of overcoming adversity and sticking to another sporting task to gain success and satisfaction!