Swimmers, Jack Thomas (Swansea), Alex Rosser (Swansea) and Tom Hamer (Rossendale) set to make their mark as the excitement builds today with a dazzling Opening Ceremony on Australia’s Gold Coast. Team England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be amongst 71 nations and territories, supporting 4,500 athletes of the Commonwealth competing across 18 different sports.
38 para-sport medal events exist in athletics, swimming, triathlon, lawn bowls, table tennis and powerlifting. Out of those 38 medal events, just swimming is open to athletes with intellectual disability.
Team Wales will be represented in 15 sports with over 200 competitors set for the Gold Coast.
Part of Team Wales is swimming powerhouse, and UKSA My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador, Jack Thomas. Set to make his mark on the Gold Coast, Jack’s international career began as the youngest swimmer ever selected to a UK Sports Association (UKSA) GB Team at the Inas Swimming Championships over 10 years ago.
Competing in the S14 (intellectual disability) class, at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Jack won bronze in the 200m freestyle event and went on to secure two silver medals at the IPC European Championships in Eindhoven in the 100m Backstroke and 200m Individual medley as well as a bronze in the 200m free.
The following year Jack broke his wrist, which ruled him out of the 2015 IPC World Championships, whilst at the same time, his coach of five years moved on. Jack reflects back, saying ‘he lost his way with training’ but in October 2016, he “decided that it was not over” and that “it was time to fight back”. And that’s just what he did. He found a new coach and at the 2016 British Championships, he set four new British records. Now ready to make his mark in Australia, Jack is ready to rock that pool and show the world what he can do.
Alex Rosser is making his Commonwealth debut. The pinnacle of Alex Rosser’s career to date is finishing fourth at the World Para Swimming Series final in Berlin in the S14 (intellectual disability) class.
The former West Monmouth Comprehensive School pupil is currently studying for a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Swansea University. He is also a part-time swimming instructor for the Torfaen Leisure Trust. He is coached at the Wales National Pool by Christian Whelan, Hayley Baker and Adam Baker.
Team England will compete across all 18 sports, with more than 400 athletes heading to the Gold Coast.
Of those 400, UKSA My Sport, My Voice! Ambassador and former Paralympian Tom Hamer will take to the pool competing in the S14 (intellectual disability) class. Tom first represented England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he claimed a silver medal. “It was amazing”, said Hamer “Then I represented GB at Eindhoven at the IPC Europeans where I got another silver medal.”
Tom’s career is going from strength to strength and he is considered one of swimmings rising stars. Eager to convert his 2014 silver to a Gold medal this year, he is on point to achieve success.
Both Team Scotland and Team Northern Ireland are also ready for the Gold Coast events, with 211 athletes and 134 athletes, coaches and support staff respectively. Neither of these 2018 Teams include athletes with intellectual impairment.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games takes place 4-15 April in the Gold Coast Australia. You can follow all the action at https://results.gc2018.com/en/all-sports/daily-schedule-date=2018-04-05.htm or through each Home Nation’s Team websites.
Both Jack Thomas and Alex Rosser compete on Day 1 and go in heats of the Men’s S14 200m Freestyle at 11.13 (0213 BST) looking to make the final the same evening.
We wish all four Teams the very best of luck at the Games, but a special “Good luck guys” to Jack, Alex and Tom – we are all behind you!