Evans Getting to Grips with New Sport in Her Delhi Bid; GARETH GRIFFITHS Speaks to Non Evans as She Prepares to Create Commonwealth Games History by Becoming the First Athlete to Compete in Three Different Events
Byline: GARETH GRIFFITHS
NON EVANS has become one of the most durable and recognisable Welsh sportswomen.
And, at the tender age of 35, she is not finished yet as she prepares to make Commonwealth Games history with the 2012 London Olympics also in her sights.
The Welsh rugby international is preparing to tackle her third sport in her second Commonwealth Games when she captains the women's wrestling team in Delhi.
Evans competed for Wales at Manchester in 2002 in weightlifting and judo and will be the first female to compete in three different sports at the Games.
She is also set to turn her back on rugby and focus fully on wrestling in a bid to qualify for the wrestling team for London 2012.
Little more than a month ago, Evans was playing for Wales in the World Cup, but now she is ready to retire from rugby if the Delhi Games are a success.
"I said after the World Cup I'm going to focus on the wrestling now, depending on how it goes out here," said Evans, who heads up the first Welsh Commonwealth Games team with the seven-strong squad completed by Brett Hawthorn, Damion Arzu, Sarah Connolly, Kiran Manu, Craig Pilling and Kate Rennie.
"It's the pinnacle of any athlete's career to make the Olympic Games and if I didn't give it a good shot I'd regret it.
"In rugby I'd achieved most things I possibly could, so my ambition before I retire is to try and make it to the Olympics. But to give it a fair crack I'd have to give up the rugby.
"It's been a crazy few months trying to fit everything in.
"In 2002 I missed the World Cup because it clashed with Manchester and I chose to go to the Games.
"Luckily there was no clash, because the World Cup was brilliant and I'm really glad I went."
Evans, who has 87 caps playing mainly at full-back and wing, concentrated on rugby after the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
She was invited to a wrestling training session by her former judo coach Alan Jones in March, the day after the end of the Six Nations championship, and has not looked back.
"I made the transition quite easily because of the judo in the past," she said.
"I retired from judo after the Commonwealth Games in 2002 because women's rugby had become such a big sport.
"Years ago you could do both, but it has become such a commitment I just focused on the rugby.
"But, coming to the end of my rugby career, Alan rang me up and asked me to come down and do some training. …