Less than seven months after having her right foot amputated and having to learn to walk again, British Paralympic swimmer Alice Tai won gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
Tai was born with bilateral clubfeet and has spent the past 10 years considering surgery. The pain in her foot had gotten worse, so she finally endured it on January 13. In a BBC interviewshe said she wasn’t even sure she could compete in competitive swimming this season.
However, she persevered, clocking 1:13:64 in the S8 final of the women’s 100m backstroke for the England team.
“I knew that if I had the amputation I would have a better quality of life, if it went well. It made sense and it was the right time,” she told the BBC’s Access All podcast on the eve of the Games. “It took me a while to realize what a dramatic option it was. I had thought about it so much in my head for many years, so it was almost normal.”
It was her second Commonwealth title, as she also won one in Gold Coast four years ago. This one, however, was a bit more special.
It was a difficult year for Tai. She won gold at the Rio 2016 and London 2019 Paralympic Games, but was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Games due to an elbow injury. The timing was complicated because she had just moved from the S8 category to the S9 category, which meant that she was competing against athletes with lower levels of impairment.
Tai told the BBC she thinks her times will be faster than before because her swimming efficiency is better now. Her focus is now on the upcoming Paralympic Games. She won relay gold in Rio, but is setting bigger goals and is aiming for an individual title in Paris in 2024.