Less than seven months after her right leg was amputated and she had to learn to walk again, British Paralympic swimmer Alice Tai won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday.
Tai was born with bilateral clubfoot and has been thinking about surgery for the past 10 years. The pain in her leg was getting worse, so on January 13 she was finally cured. BBC interviewshe said she wasn’t even sure if she could take part in the swimming competition this season.
However, she persevered, clocking 1:13:64 in the women’s S8 100m backstroke final for England.
📅 January 2022: @alice__tai her right leg was amputated below the knee due to increased pain in her foot.
📅 July 2022: Alice Tai wins #Commonwealth Games gold in S8 100m backstroke in Sandwell!
— Birmingham 2022 (@birminghamcg22) July 31, 2022
“I knew that if I had an amputation, my quality of life would be better if everything went well. It made sense and it was the right time.” she said on the BBC Access All podcast. before the Games. “It took me a while to realize how dramatic this option was. I thought about it so much in my head for years that it was almost normal.”
This was her second Commonwealth title, as she had also won it at the Gold Coast four years earlier. This one, however, was a little more special.
It’s been a difficult year for Tai. She took gold at the Rio 2016 and London 2019 Paralympics but had to withdraw from the Tokyo Games due to an elbow injury. The timing for this was challenging because she had just reclassified from S8 to S9, which meant she was competing against athletes with lower levels of disability.
Tai told the BBC she thinks her time will be faster than before because her swimming efficiency is better now. Now her focus is on the next Paralympic Games. She won gold in the relay in Rio but has big goals for herself and is set to take the individual title in Paris in 2024.