Amputee surfer from Gwynedd Llywelyn Williams becomes Wales' first world champion

An amputee surfer from Gwynedd has made history by becoming Wales' first surfing world champion.

Llywelyn 'Sponge' Williams earned a gold medal for Wales at the 2022 ISA Para Surfing World Championships in California on Sunday.

Llywelyn is regarded as one of the best adaptive surfers in the world, but had narrowly missed out on a world championship in previous years.

He travelled to California to compete in his fourth final and was hoping to improve on his bronze medal finish in 2021.

Representing Wales at the 2022 World Championships at Pismo Beach, California, Sponge made his way through four heats to become the Men's World Champion in the kneeling division.

Delighted with his achievement, Llewelyn said on Instagram, "What an unbelievable feeling! 6 solid years of pushing and doing what we love, we have finally done it and bringing the Gold medal home to Wales!"

When 16 year-old Llywelyn Williams was hit by a car back in 2011 while skateboarding, there were no thoughts of world championships or gold medals.

Llywelyn said getting back in the water helped with his recovery Credit: PA

He suffered life-threatening injuries, including dislocating both hips, a head injury, broken femur, shattered pelvis, punctured lung, perforated bowel and a split liver.

From a young age, Williams had shown great potential in local surfing competitions and was determined to make sure his injuries didn't stop him from hitting the water again.

Llywelyn was put in an induced coma in order to save his life - and his leg. "I lost so much blood, all the muscle was turning to poison," he explained to ITV Wales in 2020.

"It was killing me. Then they told my parents if they don’t cut off my leg now, it will get to my heart."

Against staggering odds, Llywelyn overcame his injuries. He accepted the loss of his leg, and was back in the water within two months.

Now, 11 years on, the 27-year-old has reached the pinnacle of his sport and by doing so has become the first Welsh gold medallist at the championships.