TASS athletes celebrate success at Gold Coast Games

Gold medallist James Wilby (Credit: Reuters/David Gray)

TASS athletes are triumphant as they return from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games with a total of 48 medals, won by 101 athletes who have been supported by the scheme during their sporting careers.

Undoubtedly one of Team England’s the finest moments of the Games, the nation’s netball team made history by winning the first-ever Commonwealth gold in the sport in a nail biting final on Sunday.

Five former TASS athletes featured in the squad – Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Kadeen Corbin, Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten and Helen Housby – that took the title with a 52-51 victory over hosts and world champions, Australia.

Other gold medal winning alumni included breaststroke swimmer James Wilby, weightlifter Emily Godley and para-cycling pilot Helen Scott who all put in outstanding performances to add at least one medal each to the haul.

Meanwhile, Maria Tsaptsinos (table tennis), Denise Payet (table tennis), Sam Gowin (shooting) and Zoe Smith (weightlifting) all won a place on the podium in their respective sports and are part of the contingent of 400 talented athletes who are receiving help from the scheme this year.

Following Team England’s triumph in the women’s table tennis team event to claim bronze, Maria Tsaptsinos said: “Words can’t describe how happy I am right now, first Commonwealth Games, first medal, I’m just so happy for all the girls.”

British Army athlete Sam Gowin won bronze in the rapid-fire pistol and was delighted with his medal. “I’m speechless to be honest. I guess it’s training smart and these are the results,” he said.

“I was anxious but calm but I was sort of expecting the other guys to kick me out there so this is a complete surprise and I think that’s the people want to see when an underdog wins so it’s great!”

Helen Scott celebrates with Sophie Thornhill (Credit: Reuters/Paul Childs)

For Glasgow 2014 gold medallist Zoe Smith, taking silver at the Gold Coast came as a welcome surprise after missing out on the 2016 Olympic Games due to injury.

“That is one of the toughest competitions I’ve ever done so this has got to be one of my proudest moments, it’s up there,” she admitted. “When I’m on form, I’m good, I can be hitting those big weights, I can hang with the best and stay in contention for medals.

“I’m not old, I turn 24 next month but it’s a lot different from being 16 when you’re basically just made of rubber and magic and can just bounce back from anything. I really need to focus on taking care of my body, just to make sure I’m on form to lift those big weights.”

Other highlights from the Games included TASS alumna and History graduate, Dina Asher-Smith’s bronze medal in the women’s 200m against a truly world-class field, followed by her upgrade to gold as a part of the 4 x 100m relay team.

Speaking after the women’s 200m final she said: “Obviously I came with the aim to get myself on the podium, that’s been the whole impetus in training since London last year.

“I just wanted to get myself out of the fourths, out of the fifths and make it, so this is a great step in the right direction. I’m really happy to run a 22.2 in April, that’s insane for me. Usually I’m still jogging around in trainers at this point.”

In total, more than 130 athletes who represented the home nations at the Gold Coast are alumni of the programme, having benefited from access to a support package made up of specialist services like strength and conditioning, psychology and lifestyle guidance whilst in education.

Kelly Sibley and Maria Tsaptsinos after winning a double match. (Credit: Reuters/Jeremy Lee)