Para-swimming sensation Alice Tai was close to giving up the sport altogether, but her Commonwealth Games debut made her think otherwise, the 19-year-old has revealed.
Competing for Team England at the Gold Coast in April, Tai made it a debut to remember by clinching a gold and silver in the S10 100m backstroke and the S9 100m freestyle, respectively. She also clinched a little bit of history that will stay with her forever, as her gold medal triumph was England’s 100th gold medal in a swimming event in Commonwealth history.
“I wasn’t considering swimming past Tokyo in 2020,” the Poole-born swimmer confessed. “But after having gone to a Commonwealth Games I really want to continue and go to Birmingham because I think that’d be great.”
Tai, who was crowned Paralympic champion in 2016 when she clinched gold at the Rio Olympics as part of the victorious 4x100m medley relay team, gushed about her Gold Coast experience and what it was like to be a part of such an experienced and star-studded team.
“There was just such a great team atmosphere, and people such as Adam Peaty, it was amazing and so inspiring to be on teams with them because they’re idols for me, and when any of us were competing we’d always be there cheering them on, it was brilliant.”
Speaking about her triumphs in the pool in Australia, where Team England enjoyed unbridled success across the 11 days, Tai said she wasn’t focusing on medals, but just improving herself. “I think it was more just to enjoy the experience, I don’t usually swim for medals and records, I swim because I want to be there and I want to improve.”
Following on from her Gold Coast success , Tai competed in the British Para-swimming International Meet, where the 19-year-old was moved down in classification to the S8 category, breaking the world record as a result.
“I was kind of upset that I got moved down as I don’t get that sort of competition.
“I really enjoy diving in the pool and knowing it’ll be a close finish; it pushes me that little bit more.”
Selected for the European Para-swimming Championships to be held in Dublin in August, Tai is hoping for more success, but will also use the competition to polish her technique.
“I just want to nail all my race plans, because hopefully if I swim a perfect race I’ll get a new personal best out of it.”
With plenty more events on the horizon, and with the 2020 Paralympics and Birmingham Commonwealth Games to look forward to, Tai will be expecting to add more medals to her already-plentiful collection.