As the 45th WorldSkills Competition came to an end last week two former Pembrokeshire College students held their medals high and flew the flag for Team UK.
A biennial competition which this year attracted 1,354 young professionals from 63 countries, WorldSkills sees the best of the best competing for a place on the skills podium.
With 56 different skills competitions across a wide range of industries from joinery to floristry; hairdressing to electronics; and autobody repair to bakery, the four-day competition tested competitors to their limits.
Former Pembrokeshire College hospitality student Sam Everton, and former carpentry student Christopher Caine, made up part of the 37-strong team for the UK which included seven Welsh competitors – the highest proportion to date.
Both Sam and Chris faced fierce competition to make it through to Team UK and since the announcement last March have been travelling the world taking part in skills competitions as well as being put through Olympian levels of training and resilience coaching from Olympic athletes in the run up to the finals in Kazan.
The closing ceremony saw Team UK bring home two golds, a silver, a bronze and 15 medallions of excellence which included medallions of excellence for both Sam and Chris. Medallions of excellence were awarded to competitors who reached an international standard in their competition.
Pembrokeshire College Principal, Dr Barry Walters was thrilled with the results and commented: “We could not be more proud of Chris and Sam. The way in which they have conducted themselves throughout the last two years has been impeccable. They have balanced intensive training sessions with employment and travelling all over the world to prepare themselves for the finals in Kazan.
“For both Chris and Sam to have achieved medallions of excellence is the ultimate finale to what has been a phenomenal journey.”
Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates added: “Having seven Welsh competitors in Team UK demonstrates the very talented young people we have here in Wales and the growing strength of our skills base right across the country.
“These young people have represented Wales and their employers on a global scale and demonstrate Wales’ commitment, as a country, to investing in our future generations. To return home with four medals, including a Bronze, is a testament to these individuals’ skills, talent and dedication and we are incredibly proud of our Welsh competitors.”