Imagen
Great Britain's Alice Tai shows her two gold medals at the Sheffield 2018 World Series

Alice Tai

Swimming
1
1

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S9, SB8, SM9

Further personal information

Residence
London, ENG
Occupation
Athlete, Student
Languages
English
Higher education
Neurological Science - Middlesex University London: England

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age eight with the New Milton Seagulls Swimming Club in Christchurch, England.
Why this sport?
"I came into sports for two reasons. Firstly, I lived by the sea when I was younger and my parents were adamant that I should know how to swim if we ever went to the beach. Second, when I was younger, I had 14 surgeries by the age of 12 and I used water as a rehab because each time I had surgery, I had to re-learn how to walk and it was a good way to stay active and fit. Then when I was a bit older I realised I could be classified as a disability swimmer and so I started training and competing."
Club / Team
Ealing Swimming Club: London, ENG
Name of coach
Dave Heathcock [personal]

International debut

Year
2014
Competing for
Great Britain

General interest

Hobbies
Playing guitar, listening to music, cooking, origami. (paralympic.org, 28 May 2020; telegraph.co.uk, 09 Sep 2019; bournemouthecho.co.uk, 11 Jan 2018)
Hero / Idol
British Para swimmer Ellie Simmonds, US Para swimmer Jessica Long. (blog.toyota.co.uk, 02 Mar 2020; mdx.ac.uk, 19 Dec 2019)
Injuries
She withdrew from the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo due to a persistent elbow injury. She had missed training time in the lead-up to the Games due to nerve swelling in the elbow. (insidethegames.biz, 25 Jun 2021; telegraph.co.uk, 31 Dec 2020)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
She takes her favourite socks to competitions. (mag.toyota.co.uk, 02 Mar 2020)
Awards and honours
She was named in the top 50 of The Telegraph newspaper's 2019 Women of the Year list. (swimming.org, 19 Dec 2019)

She was named the 2019 Sunday Times Disability Sportswoman of the Year. (britishswimming.org, 22 Nov 2019)

At the 2019 British Swimming Awards she was named the British Para Swimmer of the Year and the overall British Swimming Athlete of the Year. She was the first Para swimmer to win the overall award. (britishswimming.org, 10 Nov 2019; advertiserandtime.co.uk, 08 Sep 2020)

She was voted International Paralympic Committee [IPC] Athlete of the Month for September 2019. (britishswimming.org, 15 Oct 2019)

She was named Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the 2017 New Year's Honours list. (paralympic.org, 31 Dec 2016)

She was named the 2016 Youth Sport Trust Young Sportsperson of the Year in England. (swimming.org, 23 Mar 2017)
Famous relatives
Her younger brother Christian Tai has competed in swimming, including at the 2018 British Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland. (paralympic.org, 28 May 2020; SportsDeskOnline, 27 Jul 2020)
Impairment
She was born with severe bilateral talipes [club foot]. Having undergone a number of corrective operations, she decided to have her right leg amputated below the knee in January 2022. (insidethegames.biz, 25 Jan 2022; skysports.com, 20 Jan 2022; bbc.co.uk, 19 Jan 2019; london2012.com, 08 Dec 2011)
Other information
AMPUTATION DECISION
She decided to have her right leg amputated below the knee in January 2022 after pain in her foot worsened over the previous few years. "Both of my ankles are fused and arthritic but my right one has always been more troublesome and non-functional. I first asked my surgeons about the possibility of amputation in 2012. There were no more corrective surgeries that could give me significant mobility improvements whilst reducing pain. At the time, it was agreed that amputation was an option, but that they'd rather perform it after I'd stopped growing. Since then, it's never really left the back of my mind and I was just waiting on a good time to 'fit it in'. Last year [2021], I realised I was wasting time - if a better quality life was possible, what was I waiting for? I have no regrets. I'm proud that I had my leg amputated. It's opened up so many doors for me." (skysports.com, 20 Jan 2022; bbc.co.uk, 19 Jan 2022; insidethegames.biz, 25 Jan 2022; britishswimming.org, 19 Jan 2022; telegraph.co.uk, 24 Feb 2022)

POST-RIO RELOCATION
Despite winning a gold and a bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she says the 2016 Games coincided with her "losing her love" for swimming. Following the Games, she left her training base at Great Britain's National Performance Centre in Manchester and moved first to Bournemouth, England, and then to Ealing Swimming Club in London, England, to try and rediscover her passion for swimming. "Rio was about the time I lost my love for the sport. I felt like I needed to be out of that environment [after Rio 2016] so I went back home [to Bournemouth] to my very first swim coaches and started training with them a little bit. It was really about almost learning to love swimming again. In Manchester there were five or six of us and there was only one [Para swimmer] per session who I could train with and race against, but now I can always race someone every session. I might be doing fly against someone's breaststroke but there is always someone I can push myself against. For me, having the whole squad pretty much being faster than me is such an amazing motivation." (paralympic.org, 05 Sep 2019; telegraph.co.uk, 09 Sep 2019)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
She served as part of the athlete advisory group for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and worked as a pundit for British television network Channel 4 as part of their coverage of the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (nationalworld.com, 26 Aug 2021; Facebook profile, 12 Nov 2020; britishswimming.org, 12 Nov 2020)

MUSICIAN
She has played electric guitar and bass in a band called 'Blush!', with the group releasing their debut single in 2021. "I always just enjoyed music. We will be putting some music out just because we enjoy it. If other people like it enough to make a career out of it, then that's great as well." (Facebook profile, 11 Feb 2021, 20 Aug 2021; Twitter profile, 23 Feb 2021; mag.toyota.co.uk, 02 Mar 2020; telegraph.co.uk, 31 Dec 2020)

STUDIES
In September 2019 she began studying neuroscience at Middlesex University London in England. She had previously studied music at the University of West London before transferring. (paralympic.org, 05 Sep 2019; telegraph.co.uk, 09 Sep 2019; mdx.ac.uk, 19 Dec 2019)

Results

Unit Date Rank
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 50 m Freestyle S10 Heat 1 2015-07-13 10
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Heat 2 2015-07-16 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Final 1 2015-07-16 3
Women's 4x100 m Freestyle 34pts Final 1 2015-07-16 3
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Final 1 2015-07-17 3
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Heat 2 2015-07-17 2
Women's 100 m Freestyle S10 Heat 2 2015-07-18 9
Women's 400 m Freestyle S10 Heat 1 2015-07-19 9
Women's 4x100 m Medley 34pts Final 1 2015-07-19 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Final Round 2016-09-10 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S10 Heat 1 2016-09-10 1
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Final Round 2016-09-12 7
Women's 100 m Butterfly S10 Heat 1 2016-09-12 4
Women's 100 m Freestyle S10 Heat 2 2016-09-13 4
Women's 4x100 m Freestyle 34pts Final Round 2016-09-15 4
Women's 4x100 m Medley 34pts Final Round 2016-09-16 1