Swimmers and powerlifters complete Team Wales para squad for GC2018

The selection of two swimmers and three powerlifters was today confirmed by Commonwealth Games Wales, completing the Team Wales squad of para-athletes heading out to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April. 

Swimmers Jack Thomas and Alex Rosser have both been selected to represent Wales in the men’s 200m freestyle event (S14 category).

Jack won bronze in the 200m freestyle S14 event at Glasgow 2014 and went on to secure two silver medals at the European Championships in Eindhoven in the 100m Backstroke and 200m Individual medley as well as a bronze in the 200m free. Originally from Swansea, Jack now trains at Llandudno Swim Centre with coach Chris Davies where he also volunteers in the pool when not training.

Alex, 21 from Torfaen, started competing at the age of 7 following in the footsteps of his parents who were both international swimmers. The pinnacle of his career to date is finishing fourth in the World Para Swimming Series in Berlin in July this year. Alex is currently studying for a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Swansea University and is also a part-time swimming instructor for the Torfaen Leisure Trust.

Powerlifters Nathan Stephens, Sean Gaffney and Nerys Pearce will also be joining other Team Wales athletes at the 2018 Games.

Multi-sport athlete Nathan Stephens from Bridgend, who’ll be celebrating his 30th birthday during the 2018 Games, will be competing in the men’s lightweight (up to and including 72.0kg). A former world record holder and World Champion in the F57 javelin, he is also a three-time Paralympian, competing in sledge hockey at the 2006 Winter Games, in discus, shot and javelin in 2008 and in javelin at London 2012. He has only been powerlifting since January 2017 and is looking forward to his first ever opportunity to compete for Wales at a Commonwealth Games.

46 year old Sean Gaffney from Ellesmere Port, who is currently serving at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, has a below the knee left leg amputation from an injury in service in 1999. More than 20 operations later, he competed at the 2016 Invictus Games where he won an incredible four medals – including golds in powerlifting and one minute rowing. Sean will be competing in the men’s heavyweight (over 72kg) event at what will be his first ever Commonwealth Games.

Competing in the women’s heavyweight (over 61.0kg) will be Nerys Pearce, 36 from Ascot, Berkshire. Having won 10 medals at the Invictus Games, Nerys is hoping for another podium place at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Already in full training and focussed on delivering her best performance yet for Wales next year, Nerys also coaches team mate Sean Gaffney.

Helen Phillips, Chair of the Commonwealth Games Wales Board who confirmed the selections, said: “We’re very excited to have the swimmers and powerlifters join the other para-athletes who have already been announced to compete in athletics, cycling, lawn bowls and table tennis. We wish them all the very best with their training and final preparations for the Games.

“The 2018 Games are just around the corner, and with the rest of Team Wales due to be announced in January, we’re looking forward to seeing our athletes make Wales proud once again next year.”

Disability Sport Wales CEO, Fiona Reid said: “Disability Sport Wales are delighted to see the inclusion of these para-swimmers and powerlifters within Team Wales. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will showcase the highest number of para-sport events ever at a Commonwealth Games, and I’m absolutely thrilled to see such a strong team selected to represent Team Wales. With a mix of World Champions & Paralympic Champions as well as newly identified athletes, it shows the strength in the para-athlete development we have in here in Wales.”

Ross Nicholas, National Peformance Director at Swim Wales said: “I am delighted to receive the notification that para swimmers Jack Thomas and Alex Rosser have been selected to represent Team Wales at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the S14 200m Freestyle event. Both athletes fully deserve their selection following excellent seasons in 2017. This will be a second Games for Jack, following his medal winning performance in Glasgow, and he will be fully focused on preparing himself in the best possible way to once again challenge for a podium place in 2018. Alex will be making his debut at the Games and it is exciting that Wales will have two Para Swimmers capable of challenging the best from the Commonwealth on the Gold Coast.”

Simon Roach, Sports Manager of Weightlifting Wales said: “I am delighted that 3 Para athletes have been selected for Gold Coast, their commitment and dedication throughout 2017 has been outstanding. This selection is recognition of their achievements throughout the year and reflects on the great work that is now in place within Weightlifting Wales creating an inclusive sport. I look forward to seeing them compete for Wales in April and wish them every success in their final preparation.”