The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games starts on Wednesday (23rd July) with a total of 22 medals across five Para-Sports up for grabs. The event demonstrates how disability sports can be integrated into major athletic events.
Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and patron of Disability Sport Wales applauded the event stating "The Commonwealth Games show that it doesn't matter if you are disabled or non-disabled...it is the one event that does integration properly."
One of Britain's most successful disabled sports stars, Grey-Thompson added: "People who come to watch don't differentiate, they just want to see good sport."
The Welsh sporting hero, Grey-Thompson remembered her first Commonwealth Games in 1990 where disabled athletes were treated poorly "We were completely separated and segregated." The 11 time paralympic gold medalist added "we weren't given any kit, we were not allowed to live in the village."
The Disability Sport Wales patron did reiterate that para-sport has come a long way since and conditions have improved noticeably."With each four-year cycle, there has been an expansion of events and sports." The naming of Paralympic Gold Medalist Aled Davies as Team Wales Captain in Glasgow further reinforces how far the Commonwealth games and Team Wales have moved towards a more inclusive approach. In 2006 Tanni Grey Thompson was also named Team Wales Captain for the Melbourne 2006 Games.
Jon Morgan, Executive Director added:
‘’Disability Sport Wales is committed to developing a more inclusive sporting Wales. The commonwealth games is a great and timely example of how Team Wales athletes respect each other both on and off the field of play. It is so important that we are able to use this spirit and camaraderie to promote our own vision and to inspire other mainstream partners to consider how they can become more inclusive, whether it be at a local, regional or national level sport.’’
The Para-sports on show at Glasgow 2014 are athletics, powerlifting, swimming, lawn bowls and cycling. Within these sports there are 18 para- athletes in Team Wales.
The para-sport athletes included in Team Wales are:
Jack Thomas- Aquatics
Olivia Breen- Athletics
Aled Davies MBE- Athletics
Tracey Hinton- Athletics
Steffan Hughes - Athletics Guide Runner
Beverley Jones- Athletics
Rhys Jones- Athletics
Matt Ellis - Cycling
Rhiannon Henry- Cycling
Rachel James- Cycling
Ieuan Williams - Cycling
Rosa Crean - Lawn Bowls
Chris Gibson- Lawn Bowls
John Glover- Lawn Bowls
Gilbert Miles- Lawn Bowls
Dave Powell- Lawn Bowls
Ronald Whitehead- Lawn Bowls
Kevin Woolmore- Lawn Bowls