Ali Jawad MBE and Kristian Thomas are the latest guests to join us on the SportsAid Vault Podcast! The podcast, produced by Hogarth Worldwide and Gramercy Park Studios, recently returned for a second series and is being brought to you in association with Commonwealth Games England and the Team England Futures programme.
Episode three is themed ‘Home Games’ and sees Ali and Kristian talking about what this summer’s Commonwealth Games means to Birmingham, their excitement for the biggest multi-sport competition in the UK since Glasgow 2014, the significance of hosting such a huge spectacle after a challenging couple of years with the COVID-19 pandemic, and their reflections on London 2012.
Ali is a British powerlifter who has enjoyed an illustrious career….being crowned World and European champion, winning Paralympic silver and claiming two Commonwealth Games bronze medals. He took up powerlifting when he was just 16, and three years later, made his Paralympic debut in Beijing where he finished ninth. Ali had fallen ill shortly before the Games and was later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
He showed incredible strength and perseverance to finish fourth at the London 2012 Paralympics before topping the podium at the World Championships in 2014. He also won Commonwealth bronze in Glasgow later that year for Team England. This was followed by claiming the European title in 2015 before Ali secured his first ever Paralympic medal with silver at Rio 2016. He suffered a lengthy Chron’s flare-up in 2017 and completed an epic comeback by taking Commonwealth bronze on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Ali is currently on a break from competing after finishing sixth at the Tokyo Paralympics. He had undertaken three years of shielding to be able to represent his country at the Games - barely seeing his family and foregoing a stem cell trial during that period. Ali sits on the Commonwealth Games England board as an Athlete Representative and is also an ambassador for the charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
Kristian is a British gymnastics trailblazer who retired from the sport in 2017. He won 14 major international medals - at Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth level - during a glittering career. Kristian made his debut for Team England at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games when he was just 17-years-old….and he returned with a bronze medal in the team event.
Six years later, Kristian helped Team GB to their first Olympic team medal in 100 years….claiming bronze in front of a home crowd at London 2012. The four-year period which followed saw Kristian enjoy podium finish after podium finish after podium finish. Highlights include winning three medals - gold and two silver - at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, before securing the European floor title in 2015. He was selected for his seventh World Championships later that year and captained the team to an historic silver medal.
Kristian also led the team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as they fell narrowly short of a podium finish. Kristian is now vice-chairman of the British Olympic Association's Athletes' Commission and currently works as the Player Care and Engagement Manager for the Premier League.
The second series of the podcast, hosted by Tom Gayle, BBC sports presenter, commentator and reporter, is inspired by Team England Futures. The programme, which is being delivered by SportsAid on behalf of Commonwealth Games England and Sport England, will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff attending Birmingham 2022.
The programme aims to give the next generation of athletes a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.…experiencing a major Games in the flesh and better preparing them for future multi-sport competitions. It also plans to help aspiring support staff understand what opportunities they could be presented with at a major Games….as well as the challenges they may face.
Theme: Performing at your Best
Topics: Peaking in time for the Games, organising competition schedule, behind-the-scenes work for Team Leaders to ensure best possible environment, psychology of competing in front of home crowd
Guests: Ama Agbeze MBE, Kate Howey MBE
Theme: Games Time
Topics: Final preparations, Athlete Village, Opening Ceremony, balance between enjoying experience and competing, atmosphere of a home Games, staying focused and blocking out distractions
Guests: Soon to be revealed!!
Theme: Birmingham 2022
Topics: Atmosphere at the Games, the significance for Birmingham, Team England Futures, legacy, spotlight on diverse range of sports and how to capitalise on increased interest and exposure
Guests: Soon to be revealed!!