Commonwealth Games Wales have today revealed the names of seven Welsh athletes selected to compete for Team Wales in three of the para-sports featured at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
The latest 2018 Team Wales athletes to be confirmed will be competing in para-cycling, para-lawn bowls and para-table tennis. The Welsh para-athletics squad was announced earlier this week.
Double gold winner at this year’s World Championships in Los Angeles, and ranked second in the world, James Ball will represent Wales in the men’s blind and visually impaired cycling event.
Competing in para lawn bowls will be Julie Thomas and Gilbert Miles in the visually impaired mixed pairs (B2/B3) event, directed by John Wilson and Byron John respectively. Pauline Wilson, Raymond Lillycrop and Jonathan Hubbard will compete in the open triples (B6/B7/B8) event.
Ranked world 16th as of 1st November, Joshua Stacey has been selected for the TT6-10 event in the para table tennis competition. After an MRI scan earlier this year confirmed that he had cerebral palsy since birth, Welsh table tennis senior Josh was fast-tracked through to the Para classification (class 9). He made his debut for Team GB at the Belgian Para Open in October, winning an individual bronze and team gold and securing his qualification for Gold Coast.
The Commonwealth Games is the only international multi-sport event which features an integrated para-sport programme. 2018 will see the largest para-sport programme in the history of the Games - with up to 300 para-athletes and 38 medal events across seven sports. This is an increase of 45% more athletes and 73% more medals compared to the para-sport competition staged at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
Helen Phillips, Chair of the Commonwealth Games Wales Board who confirmed the selections, said: “Congratulations to all of the Welsh para-athletes who have been selected to represent Team Wales at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. They have all achieved great results on the international sporting stage, and we look forward to seeing them make Wales proud once again next year. Being chosen for Team Wales is testament to their commitment, passion and dedication and also the excellent support of their coaches, families, Disability Sport Wales and their national governing body.”
Disability Sport Wales CEO, Fiona Reid said: “Disability Sport Wales are delighted to see the inclusion of these para-athletes 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 a strong team of para-athletes selected. 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.”
Matt Cosgrove, Performance Director with Welsh Cycling said: It’s great to be able to announce the first member of the cycling team for Gold Coast 2018. Although he is still relatively new to cycling, James is the reigning World Champion in the two Para-cycling events on the Gold Coast programme so will go into the competition full of confidence.
Hazel Wilson, Team Manager for Lawn Bowls in Wales: "I am delighted that Wales Para Bowls have been nominated to take part in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. It is a fantastic opportunity and I am sure the whole of Wales will be behind the team. We have a really strong squad and, based on their Bronze medal success for both the visually impaired and para teams in a test event on the Commonwealth Games bowling greens earlier this year, Wales has a brilliant chance of medal success."
Ryan Jenkins, Table Tennis Wales Head Coach said: "It's been a great opening for Josh and he is embracing Para Table Tennis in a very good way. Josh has a bright future both in Para and able-bodied Table Tennis and we are helping him in both aspects going forward. He wasn't in a position to qualify for Gold Coast, but now, through Para Table Tennis, he will be there."
2018 Team Wales Para-Sport athletes selected to date:
Hollie Arnold, 23, Loughborough
Olivia Breen, 21, Liphook
Beverley Jones, 43, Flintshire
Morgan Jones, 23, Winchester (Born) Cardiff (Lives)
Rhys Jones, 23, Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf
James Ledger, 24, Morriston, Swansea
Jonathan Hubbard, Tenby
Raymond Lillycrop, Milford Haven
Gilbert Miles, Pontardulais
Julie Thomas, Bridgend
Pauline Wilson, Builth Wells
James Ball, 26, Newport (Born), Manchester (Lives)
Joshua Stacey, 17, St. Mellons, Cardiff