When I found the sport I would be covering was Swimming, I was delighted; not only as it is one of the most recognisable sports in the games, but it’s also brilliant to watch. However, what I didn’t anticipate is the amount of swimming on display that I would need to cover. So instead, I am going to focus on one success story of the tournament in the form of Para athlete Alice Tai.
Alice was born with a condition known as Bilateral Talipes, which meant from a young age she had to undergo several operations. This, however, was never going to stop Alice, with all her training paying off when she achieved her first gold in the Rio Olympics 2016.
Other facts about Alice Tai
- Tai competes in the SB8, SM8 and S8
- She was born 31st January 1999 (age 24 years)
- She won 7 gold medals at the World Para Swimming Championships in 2019 securing gold in the S8 50m, 100m and 400m Freestyle, S8 100m Backstroke, S8 100m Butterfly, 34pt 4x100m Medley Relay and 34pt 4x100m Freestyle Relay.
Now you are thinking, so she was favourite to win at the games? Why focus on Alice out of all the athletes competing? Well, here is where her already brilliant achievement becomes incredible.
Before the games Alice began to struggle further with her mobility causing her to question if she would be able to compete. Therefore, in January she had to undergo surgery to have her leg amputated below the knee. Meaning just six months before the games, Alice had to relearn how to swim, coming up with a whole new plan to compete at elite level.
She even admitted she had a discussion with her coach after surgery about not even trying for the Birmingham games as she wasn’t going to make it.
Thankfully, Alice didn’t give up and when Team England gave her the opportunity, she repaid them with an outstanding swim, winning gold and once again overcoming all the odds. After the swim, Alice said “I just swam for my life, I can’t believe what happened” – she wasn’t the only one!
Her story of outstanding commitment is one we can all get behind, and she certainly brought a smile to all our faces at Nifty HQ. The story, however, isn’t over for Alice with her attention now turning to a gold medal at Paris 2024.
I wouldn’t bet against Alice, and echoing what her coach has said, as she gets fitter her times could be even better than before her operation, something nobody was expecting just six months prior.
I must admit, having not closely followed the sport before, I never knew of Alice Tai and her previous achievements. Despite this, her story is one I won’t forget, and I can’t wait to cheer her on at the next Olympics and Commonwealth Games.