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Wales's golden sport couple share gritty determination

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

By Dafydd Pritchard

  • George North has praised girlfriend Becky James, who celebrated gold in Belarus last Sunday.

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FORMER England cricketer Jimmy Ormond faced a typically stinging torrent of abuse from his Australian opponents when he made his Test debut in 2001.

A portly seam bowler who was powerless to prevent England from a humiliating innings-defeat at the Oval, Ormond was an easy target for the Australians' chief sledger Mark Waugh.

Waugh, whose brother Steve was the legendary captain of that side, welcomed Ormond to the crease by saying: "Mate, what are you doing out here? There's no way you're good enough to play for England."

Ormond's riposte was understated, but rendered Waugh speechless: "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family."

The next time Wales wing George North considers winding up an opponent, he might want to remind himself of Ormond's put-down.

North may well be the best-known player in his family at the moment but, judging by his girlfriend's spectacular recent success, that may not be the case for much longer.

Becky James, North's other half, announced herself as British cycling's newest global star last weekend after winning two gold medals at the World Championships in Minsk.

Those triumphs in the women's sprint and keirin were in addition to a pair of bronze medals she had claimed in the team sprint and 500m time trial — making James the first British rider to win four medals at a single World Championships.

James, from Abergavenny, and North are now Welsh sport's golden couple, and the Scarlets giant is delighted to see his girlfriend doing so well — even if it means a little less limelight for himself.

"She has been awesome. She works so hard and she is so focused," he said.

"We bounce off each other and she is growing at the moment. Hopefully I can keep my side of the bargain.

"I've had some standard banter from the boys (in the Wales squad).

"It's a huge achievement, to be the first British cyclist to get four medals in a World Championships.

"She's worked hard for it.

"It's huge for Becky and she's taking everything in her stride."

With North playing for Wales in Italy last weekend and James breaking records in Ukraine, the couple turned to Twitter to wish each other well in their respective competitions.

For North, a 26-9 triumph in Rome gave Wales a second successive Six Nations victory and helped restore further the pride which had taken such a severe beating by the eight-game losing streak which had preceded their win in France.

"It was a funny game — not one for backs, it was forward dominated — but when we had our chances, we finished our tries well," said North.

"After the Ireland loss, we were on a massive downer.

"We stayed strong as a unit.

"It was a massive block of losses, but we never felt we were in a terrible place. We stayed strong and together."

Wales now have two wins from their three Six Nations fixtures so far, giving them a slim chance of retaining their title even if a Grand Slam is beyond them.

Their next opponents, Scotland, find themselves in the same position and North is wary of facing a revitalised side at Murrayfield on March 9.

"They had a slow start but from what I gather on the weekend, it was a massive physical game against Ireland and this win is going to fill them with confidence for two weeks' time," he said.

"They were in the same position as we were before the France game, a bit downhearted.

"When you win in France, the confidence goes up and I felt we played with more confidence last Saturday, we played with a bit more of a relaxed attitude.

"If we play in the right areas and do not try to play it from our own half and really force the pressure, I think we can come away with a win."

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