England swimmer wins gold just months after leg amputation

England para-swimmer Alice Tai won a remarkable Commonwealth Games gold medal, just months after having her right leg amputated.

Tai emerged victorious in the S8 100m backstroke to claim her second Commonwealth Games gold medal at the Sandwell Aquatics Center in Birmingham.

The 23-year-old was born with bilateral clubfeet, otherwise known as ‘clubfeet’, which led to her having several surgeries as a junior.

In 2019, Tai won seven gold medals at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London as well as four gold medals at the 2018 European Championships.

She also won gold in the 4x100m medley (34pts) at Rio 2016 but was unable to defend her title due to an elbow injury.

The English swimmer continued to struggle with her mobility and wondered if she would be able to compete in Birmingham this year.

However, earlier this year, Tai underwent surgery to have her leg amputated below the knee, forcing her to reassess how she swims at the elite level.

Tai admitted she didn’t think she would be able to race this season, but thanked the England team for letting her compete.

“I can’t believe I’m in the England team,” she said. “There was a time when my coach and I were like ‘it’s not even worth trying, I’m not going to make it’.

“I saw the New Zealand girl when I came out of the turn and I was like ‘no, not in front of a local crowd!’ I swam for my life and I can’t believe it came from happen. I try not to cry.

Speaking to the BBC, the 23-year-old added that her best is yet to come and the focus is now on Paris 2024.

“I had so much to learn,” she says. “I had to bring all my shots back to basics to make sure I’m even in the water, but my shot efficiency is better than it was.

“My trainer feels that I can go faster thanks to this, so once we work on the technical aspects, I think my times could be faster than before.

“My start can be better, but we don’t know how I can balance the best on the blocks and also my stroke in the corner continues to change as I get back into shape.

“I won the relay gold in Rio which is great, but I really want an individual title in Paris in 2024.”

What else is happening at the Commonwealth Games?

In other news, Guernsey bowler Lucy Beere has been awarded the island’s first Commonwealth

Medal of the Games since 1984 after qualifying for the women’s singles final.

Beere will face Australia’s Ellen Ryan in the final later on Monday.

Meanwhile, in weightlifting, England’s Jessica Gordon Brown won silver in the women’s 59kg.

The 26-year-old lifted 197kg to finish second behind Nigerian Rafiatu Folashade Lawal.

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