Gold Coast Commonwealth 200 Fly Champion Alys Thomas Retires Due To Long-Term Wrist Injury

Alys Thomas
Alys Thomas: Photo Courtesy: Alex Whitehead/

Gold Coast Commonwealth 200 Fly Champion Alys Thomas Retires Due To Long-Term Wrist Injury

Alys Thomas – the 2018 Commonwealth 200 fly champion – has called time on her career on the advice of medical professionals due to an ongoing wrist injury that she first sustained before the 2010 Games in Delhi.

Over an international career spanning 12 years, Thomas represented Wales at four Commonwealth Games and reached World Championship and Olympic finals with Great Britain.

She reached the Commonwealth pinnacle on Gold Coast four years ago when she won the four-length fly in a Games mark of 2:05.45, a record that comfortably survived at Birmingham 2022 where Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers won in 2:07.26.

With victory, Thomas become only the fourth Welsh woman in history to claim Commonwealth gold in the pool.

Thomas also swam the fly leg as Wales claimed bronze behind Australia and Canada in the women’s 4×100 medley relay, pipping England to third.

Later that year, Thomas claimed double bronze with Britain at the European Championships in Glasgow.

She was fifth in the 200 fly at the 2019 World Championships – 0.44 off the podium – and was eighth with the medley relay.

At the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Thomas came seventh in the 200 fly on her Games debut before making her final competitive appearance at Birmingham 2022 with a sixth-place finish.

Her initial intention was to continue until Paris 2024 but but she was forced to take the decision to bring down the curtain on her career, or face losing the function of her wrist and hand.

The 31-year-old, who was based in Swansea at the Swim Wales High Performance Centre, said through Swim Wales:

“Unfortunately, my time in swimming as an elite athlete has to come to an end.

“What started out as a simple cartilage injury in 2010 has now reached the point where my management strategies are very limited and basically I can’t go on loading that joint anymore.

“I’m feeling a bit sad, that’s the main emotion I’m going through right now. I’ve had a nice break over the last two months but within that, I had a specialist consultant appointment about a long-term wrist injury that I’ve been managing over the last 12 years. I was told that my time in elite sport should come to an end unfortunately.

“I went in with the hope I could squeeze out another 12 to 18 months. My goal was to make Paris in 2024, but it was set out to me that my wrist was not in a good way and if I were to continue loading the joint with the daily grind of training, potentially I would lose function in my hand and my wrist.

“It’s a lot to take in and a lot to get my head around, it doesn’t sit well with me as an athlete and I want to carry on.”

The injury has not only affected her future in the sport but is also impacting her day-to-day life with normal tasks causing discomfort.

She said:

“At the moment I find it hard to drive a car, cut up my food, pick things up and even writing.

“The athlete brain doesn’t really care about that stuff as long as I can swim, but the longer I think about it, the more I understand that is not a healthy way of thinking.

“I need a functioning wrist and hand in day-to-day life in order to be able to those normal things.

“If I’m not going to be able to swim, I need to be able to take care of my body and my wrist. I was told in very plain terms that I need to take three to six months off to allow this to settle down in order to have a normal functioning hand and wrist.

“I still have a lot of pain in my wrist at the moment and I was told I have arthritis that you would expect to see in the wrist of a 60-year-old and I’m 31. My management strategies have helped me deal with it over the last two years but it’s got to the point where it’s just not feasible anymore.”

There is also pride in her achievements, saying:

“I am so proud that I got to four Commonwealth Games representing Wales, that Commonwealth individual gold and relay bronze, two European medals and two World Championships appearances,” she said. “I go back to the 2019 World Championships, I’ve watched it a handful of times and I was close to that podium.

“I came fifth but I was a fingertip away, and that pushed me on. There have been times where I see glimmers of what I could have done but I’m not disappointed, I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved.

“I would like to thank my coaches Stuart McNarry and Adam Baker and all the support staff at Swim Wales and Sport Wales for helping me and guiding me over the 12-year journey of ups and downs and never leaving my side.”

Swim Wales National Performance Director Ross Nicholas said:

“I’d like to congratulate Alys on a fantastic competitive career. Although her time competing hasn’t ended in the way she would have dreamed, Alys should be so proud of what she’s achieved since joining the Swim Wales High Performance environment all those years ago.

“It’s testament to her hard work and resilience that she became a Commonwealth champion and an Olympic and World Championships finalist in the last four years of her career, and she will be remembered as one of our nation’s finest aquatic athletes.

“All of us at Swim Wales are here to support Alys in the next stage of her career after she has dedicated so much of her time and effort to not only achieve success in her own career, but to help and inspire those around her.”




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1 year ago

What a shame. That 2:05.45 is still better than most of recentb years.

Last edited 1 year ago by John