SPORTING heroes from across Gwent were hailed in Parliament this week.

Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith led a debate on the importance of recognising sporting role models, particularly hailing Steve Jones, who grew up in Ebbw Vale, and in 1984 set a new world record in the Chicago Marathon, completing the in two hours, eight minutes and five seconds - despite this being the first time he had completed a marathon.

He also set a British record in the following year's Chicago Marathon, completing the race in two hours, seven minutes and 13 seconds - a record he held for 33 years, only losing it to Sir Mo Farah in April this year.

Labour MP Mr Smith said: "We have this great man, who accomplished incredible things and inspires people to follow in his footsteps, but he is simply nowhere near as widely recognised as he should be.

"Steve’s achievements are a great source of pride for many in Blaenau Gwent, but he is barely known outside our borough.

"There have been other positive steps in Blaenau Gwent, such as installing plaques for some of our other sporting heroes, notably Spurs football legend Ron Burgess. Over the next few months, I will write to the Welsh Government, the Cabinet Office and Welsh Athletics to seek proper recognition of Steve’s substantial contribution to sport."

Today Mr Jones lives in Colorado, where he works as a running coach.

Mr Smith also recognised rugby player Sam Cross, of Brynmawr, who won a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, female super-flyweight boxing champion Ashley Brace, of Ebbw Vale, and three-time snooker world champion Mark Williams, of Cwm, and said the government could do more to make sure sporting heroes receive the recognition they deserve.

"Great sporting achievements of any era show us what is possible, whether they are Steve’s marathon records, Mark Colbourne’s Paralympic cycling achievements or Mike Ruddock’s delivery of a grand slam as Wales rugby coach," he said.

"We can all be inspired by the examples that such sports people have set. But when we see others reaching the pinnacle in any field, if they are from our home town, the thought 'that could be me' strikes home a bit harder."

Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds also spoke during the debate, hailing rugby player Ken Jones, of Blaenavon, who scored the winning try when Wales faced the All Black in 1953. He died in 2006.

And Islwyn MP Chris Evans spoke of the value of boxing, singling out Newbridge's Joe Calzaghe and his coach and father Enzo, who died in September, as examples of positive role models in the sport.

"Boxing, like rugby, is entwined with our valleys communities, whether in Blaenau Gwent, Islwyn, Rhondda, or the other places I have mentioned," he said.

"The boxing booth was a familiar sight in our communities. Boxing turned around not only the lives of people who might have been drawn into the criminal element but the lives of people such as Jimmy Wilde from Tylorstown, who might have been resigned to a life in the pits.

"It turned around the life of Percy Jones, and countless others such as Jim Driscoll and Tommy Farr. All of those people are now lost in the mists of time, but boxing turned around their life."