Not everyone gets the opportunity to represent their country at a major international sporting event, but English para-swimmer Ollie Hynd has not only achieved Paralympic success, but is also a Commonwealth Games champion.
Hynd, 21, had won Paralympic, World and European gold medals representing Great Britain all before 2014, when he was able to ‘complete the set’ and win gold for England at the Commonwealth Games, one of his proudest sporting moments.
“Glasgow 2014 was amazing. I had never been to a Commonwealth Games before and I didn’t know what to expect. At that point, it was the only title I was missing so I was excited to be able to be on the team, represent Team England and have the opportunity to race and get the title. It is something I will forever remember.
“Any time you get to represent your country is a big honour and something that needs to be respected. There is a little bit more pride representing Team England and a bit of friendly rivalry between the home nations is always evident at the Commonwealth Games. To represent both Team GB and Team England is something I am very proud of.”
Mansfield born Hynd recognises that the Commonwealth Games offers something very different to the Olympics or World Championships as it’s the unique opportunity to compete for his home nation, England. He believes that Team England is a strong representation of the diverse and inclusive England as it is today.
“What being English means to me is being brave, we always do our best and are world-class - that’s what Team England reflects and what all the Team England athletes at the Commonwealth Games reflect. That is what being English is to me.
“The majority of the athletes at the Games are able bodied so being a para athlete I don’t know a lot of the athletes competing in the village, but when you get put into that at the Games you become one and are made to feel so welcome and everyone was there to help everybody else and ensure they are able to deliver the best performance. That’s a vital part of the sport and when you get that comradery within the team and the whole of Team England supporting each other, that’s when you get the best performances coming through.”
Recently, MPs have been debating as to whether England’s sports teams should have their own national anthems, and follow in the footsteps of Commonwealth Games England and steer away from ‘God Save The Queen’.
Hynd said: “At the Games you are representing the home nations so it would make sense to have an individual national anthem for England, but there are positives and negatives for both sides of the argument. Whatever song it ends up being, it needs to reflect being English and the values.”
Looking ahead to the next time he will be able to compete for Team England, Hynd is excited about the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and having the chance to take on the Australian’s in their own back yard.
“I would love to be at the Gold Coast in 2018. I loved Glasgow and being a part of Team England and I have never been to Australia so it would be great to go there and have the chance to represent Team England again.
“Australia loves sport and they love to win. Obviously we have a big history of being competitive with each other so it’s great to be able to take them on in their own back yard and hopefully gets some wins which would be amazing for England.”