Paralympic gold medalist Alice Tai found herself prevented from swimming in the Middlesex Youth County Championships this week when she was barred from taking part in the finals despite qualifying as she is a para-athlete.

The swimmer tweeted: “I’m competing at counties and I’ve been told that, even though my times qualify me, I can’t swim any finals because I’m a para-swimmer.

“I’m not allowed to swim finals because I’m not able bodied.

“I only want the opportunity to race swimmers of a similar speed to me…so mad rn.”

Tai won gold and bronze in two events at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, and gold and silver in two events while representing England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

The Telegraph reports that Tai had “sailed” through the qualifying heats of the county championships, but was informed that the event’s rules prevented her from taking part in the finals of the 50m and 100m backstroke, as due to the competition’s interpretation of Swim England’s rules, para-athletes can take part in heats but must swim in separate finals.

She is the current world record holder in her classification for the 100m backstroke, and her time of 1:09.22 in the 100m heat at counties would have placed her in the running to receive a medal in the finals, had she been allowed to compete.

Martin Lees, the para-swimming development manager for Swim England, told the Telegraph: “We are aware of the situation at the recent 2019 Middlesex Youth County Championships and are in contact with the local organisers and the athlete concerned. Unfortunately, this situation arose due to the way the conditions of the event had been communicated. It was in no way intended to offend anyone.

“As the national governing body for swimming, we are committed to ensuring all swimmers are able to take part in every level of competition. We will be encouraging organisers of events across the country to review their event conditions as a matter of urgency to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Tai mater tweeted that Middlesex county are looking into the issue.

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Source: Twitter/The Telegraph
Image: Flickr/ParalympicsGB/onEdition

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