When The National launched on St David's Day 2021 Wales had taken another step towards a Grand Slam by defeating England in the Six Nations that weekend.

A perfect back page story for our souvenir launch edition but while the cut and thrust of rugby and football has been well covered in Wales we have sought to get behind the headlines with our sports coverage - as well as look back at some stories and figures from the past.

During this year's (less successful) Six Nations campaign we spoke with Irish journalist Eoin Sheahan who had crossed the Irish sea to preview the Ireland v Wales game, taking place in Dublin, for sports media platform Off The Ball. He had interviewed BBC commentator Eddie Butler who told him the country he captained lacks the confidence to govern itself.

Sports writer David Williams took the long view when opening the potential can of worms of, 'who is Wales greatest athlete'?

David looked at the life - and legend - of Guto Nyth Brân, the 18th Century runner who is said to have been able to run seven miles in the time it took for a kettle to boil.

If the debate around Wales' greatest athlete is keenly contested then the claim to be the greatest Welsh boxer of all time is equally fierce.

To mark the release of the final instalment in his series of books The Boxers of Wales, we asked esteemed boxing writer and historian Gareth Jones to give us his top 10 Welsh fighters.

Joe Calzaghe and Guto, who are honured with a bridge in Newbridge and a statue in Mountain Ash respectively, are well known figures but Renato William Jones is the little-known basketball administrator, of Welsh heritage, involved in one of the most infamous moments in Olympic history.

Jones is considered a pioneer of basketball but his most impactful decision in the sport was an intervention in the 1972 Olympic final when the USA took the lead ahead of the Soviet Union with just seconds, or possibly a second, remaining in the game

Wales continues to make an impact at the Olympics with Welsh competitors among the medals the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that were staged in 2021 having been delayed due to the pandemic.

As the Games drew to a close last year we looked at how Wales would rank if the nation was independent and able to take its place in the competition rather than entering as part of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team.

Our analysis showed Wales would rank ahead of larger nations such as India, Spain, Nigeria, Mexico and Turkey.

We also looked at how Wales would rank as an independent Paralympic nation.

The one multi-games event where Wales does compete under its own right is, of course, the Commonwealth Games which were staged in Birmingham during July and August - providing plenty more memorable moments for Wales.

The Games are almost an alternative Olympics, where we can imagine Wales taking her place on the world stage, though one in which the United States and most of Europe either don’t exist, or at least aren’t interested in sport. But as Twm Owen set out, despite the complex history of Britain's imperial past, the Commonwealth Games are crucial to Welsh sport.

When it comes to making an impact on the big stage few events will rival Wales' memorable run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Dr Penny Miles was one of the thousands who were part of the Red Wall in France but she said she also found her place as a femal in the male dominated world of football questioned.

That set her on a research project which she discussed last year as Wales were again progressing through the rounds of football's European Championships.

Of course this year Wales have taken the next step as Robert Page's men secured only a second apperance at football's World Cup finals in our nation's history.

As Leigh Jones wrote the morning after that memorable 1-0 victory over Ukraine, "for Wales as a nation, this is absolutely massive".

At the World Cup, as at Euro 2016, Wales have again been drawn in the same group as England but while the countries will be equals on the world stage domestic football here compared to our neighbours is worlds apart.

That contrast was highlighted with both England's Premier League and Wales' top flight, the Cymru Premier, marking their 30 year anniversaries on the same weekend. We visited Pontypridd United, the newest team in the JD Cymru Premier, to learn more about Wales' national league.

The Cymru Premier is Wales' national manifestation of the world's most popular sport but Wales also has its own game that is almost unique to one corner of the country.

Welsh, or British baseball, has a history stretching back more than 100 years in Cardiff, Newport and, across the border, in Liverpool. The game had almost been lost but thanks to dedicated enthusiasts, and the women's section that had never stopped playing, baseball has been revived in Cardiff.