From the sporting world of boxing and rugby, the 2017 Nos Galan Road Races has TWO Mystery Runners.
Former world champion Nathan Cleverly and Wales and British and Irish Lions rugby player Colin Charvis arrived at St Gwynno’s Church, Llanwonno, to be greeted by hundreds of well-wishers.
Having attended the annual Guto Nyth Bran Memorial Service at St Gwynno’s Church, they then laid a wreath on the grave of the legendary Welsh runner, before visiting the Nos Galan Wall of Fame at the Brynfynnon Hotel.
Nathan Cleverly made his professional debut in July 2005 at the age of 18, fighting several times on the undercard of his stablemate, former world champion Joe Calzaghe.
He also featured on the bill when Calzaghe beat Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas in 2008 and went on to win Commonwealth and European titles before overcoming Nadjib Mohammedi to claim the interim WBO world light-heavyweight belt in 2010.
He was meant to fight Jurgen Braehmer for the full title in 2011 but the German withdrew due to injury and Cleverly became the world champion.
Four successful defences of his world title followed – including one against Tony Bellew – but Cleverly lost his belt against Sergey Kovalev in 2013.
Having moved up to cruiserweight in 2014, and despite winning the vacant WBA intercontinental title,Cleverly, suffered a damaging defeat in a rematch against Bellew.
A return to light-heavyweight saw Cleverly earn respect with a gutsy defeat against Andrzej Fonfara.
But after regaining his world title against Jurgen Braehmer, Cleverly, 30, decided to retire from the ring after losing his WBA light-heavyweight crown to Badou Jack in Las Vegas earlier this year, having been stopped in the fifth round on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s victory over Conor McGregor. It was only his fourth career defeat in 34 fights.
Colin Charvis joined the Dragons in 2006 on a one-year contract and made his debut for the club in August during a pre-season friendly against the Cornish Pirates. His former clubs include London Welsh, Swansea, Newcastle Falcons and French side Tarbes.
Making 94 appearances for Wales, Colin went on to score 22 tries for his country, making him the leading try scorer among all Welsh forwards.
He captained Wales during the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia, having also played for his country during the 1999 Rugby World Cup, and also played for the British and Irish Lions during the 2001 Test Series in Australia.
After playing for Wales against England, Scotland, Ireland and Italy in the 2006 RBS Six Nations Championships, he took a brief break from international rugby, concentrating on his regional game with the Dragons.
This resulted in him being named in Gareth Jenkins’ touring squad to Australia in the summer of 2007, followed by making the preliminary Rugby World Cup 2007 summer training squad.
Having made the final 30-man squad after playing in the Test against England, he made substitute appearances in both the Invesco Perpetual Summer series matches against Argentina and France.
Most notably, he made a try-scoring substitute appearance in Wales’s opening Pool B match against Canada and made the starting line-up for the remaining Pool clashes with Australia, Japan and Fiji.
In November 2007, Colin Charvis was in Wales’ starting line-up for the inaugural Prince William Cup encounter with South Africa, and despite the 34-12 defeat against the reigning world champions, Colin scored his 22nd try for his country, making him the world’s top forward try–scorer at the time.
Cllr Ann Crimmings, Chair of the Nos Galan Committee and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Leisure, said:
“We are delighted to welcome both Nathan Cleverly and Colin Charvis to Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, as the 2017 Nos Galan Mystery Runners.
“They follow in the footsteps of many illustrious sporting personalities who have taken on the role before them.
“Both are great sporting ambassadors for their country, achieving so much during their playing careers and representing Wales on the world stage. It is such a huge honour for us to have a former world champion and a Wales and British Lion on the streets of Mountain Ash.”
The 2017 Nos Galan Road Races are sponsored by local firm Tom Prichard Ltd; Amgen, provider of Rhondda Cynon Taf’s waste management services; Trivallis, one of Wales’ largest registered social landlords providing homes for thousands of families across the County Borough; and Communities First.