The Winter Paralympic Games may be a thing of the past but the Commonwealth Games are upon us with a whole host of British para-sport stars heading to the Gold Coast, Australia. Every day of the Games will see the Brits take to the pool, track, mat and more, with action getting underway today, one day after the opening ceremony. Here’s what to look out for in an exciting ten days on the Gold Coast.
The British Cycling team could not have asked for a better Para-cycling Track World Championships last week and the squad are straight back in action on the opening day in Australia. That includes multiple world champion Sophie Thornhill and pilot Helen Scott, the Paralympic champions from Rio 2016 looking to defend their Commonwealth titles from Glasgow 2014 in the sprint and kilo. But that’s not all with Aileen McGlynn and pilot Louise Haston, who finished second behind the England pairing in Glasgow in both events, looking for the top spot on the podium this time around for the Scottish team. Scotland’s Neil Fachie and pilot Matt Rotherham are also in early action at the Games, with Wales’ James Ball and his pilot Peter Mitchell – part of the British team in Rio just a week ago – back in the men’s races.
But it’s in the pool where British interest begins Down Under as Paralympic medal-winning swimmers Thomas Hamer and Eleanor Robinson look to make a splash for Team England in the early hours, as do Jack Thomas and Alex Rosser for Wales, the latter at his first Commonwealth Games. And it’s the swimming that dominates large parts of the early schedule, with plenty more Paralympic champions getting their fair share of the action, including Alice Tai, who will do battle with Scotland’s 14-year-old Toni Shaw in the S9 events. There is also plenty of home interest in the men’s S9 competition, with England’s Jacob Leach and Lewis White competing alongside the likes of Northern Ireland’s Barry McClements.
They say that competing in a Games of any sort is a marathon as opposed to a sprint and Samantha Kinghorn is out to test that to the limits. A double world champion over 100m and 200m, it’s the T54 1500m that will first occupy her mind on the Gold Coast when the athletics action gets underway. But that’s not all. In the final event of the whole Games, the Scot – who only made her debut in the event in 2017 – will take on the T54 marathon in her bid for Commonwealth success. World bronze medallist Richard Chiassaro is sticking with the shorter distances for England however, as is sprinter Maria Lyle, a triple Paralympic medallist from Rio. World champion Olivia Breen also enters the field in the women’s T38 long jump for Wales, six years after picking up bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Meanwhile the para table tennis team will be looking to build on a bright end to 2017 when they take to the Gold Coast, having scooped double team silver at the US Open. Kim Daybell is among those looking to make a mark, as is Rio bronze medallist Ross Wilson.
Ali Jawad became a Commonwealth bronze medallist in Glasgow and he’ll once again be looking to lead England to medal success, with silver medallist Natalie Blake among those joining him when the para-powerlifting grabs centre stage on April 10. That will also give Louise Sugden her first shot at Commonwealth lifting having previously represented ParalympicsGB in wheelchair basketball.
Finally, the para-triathlon will also begin and end in the space of 24 hours, with Jade Jones – who became European champion a month after competing internationally for the first time – back for more having represented ParalympicsGB in both London and Rio, in para-athletics.