Best Wishes To Our Paralympians In Tokyo
Written by Gavin on 24th August 2021
Rhondda Cynon Taf sportsman Thomas Matthews is competing at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and the Mayor is sending him a Message of Goodwill from back home.
Thomas, aged 29, of Cwmbach, Aberdare, will be representing ParalympicsGB in the table tennis competition, having made his international debut at the Hungarian Open in 2013.
Following Thomas, currently ranked as World Number 9, as he fulfils is sporting dream in Tokyo, will be proud parents Mandy and David.
Councillor Jill Bonetto, Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf, said:
“I send the best wishes of everyone back home to Thomas, who is representing Great Britain, Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf thousands of miles away in Tokyo.
“A tragic accident saw Thomas’s life take a major change in direction, one which has seen him travel the world competing in his chosen sport, the pinnacle of which to date must be the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
“We will be following his journey with great pride after many years of hard work, commitment and dedication and wish him well as he represents ParalympicsGB.”
Thomas Matthews was a promising mountain biker when he had a fall while out riding with his uncle and a friend in March 2009, fracturing his neck which left him wheelchair bound at the age of 16.
A keen sportsman, before the accident. Thomas played football and rugby, and while undergoing rehabilitation at Rookwood Hospital, he was encouraged to try table tennis, by Jim Munkley, of Disability Sport Wales and fellow RCT Paralympic table tennis player Sara Head, who represented Wales at two Commonwealth Games and won a Bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Once he tried it, Thomas found he loved table tennis and had a natural talent. After leaving hospital, he continued to play table tennis with the Welsh squad, and after a brief break returned to the squad in 2013.
Thomas made his international debut in Hungary the same year and was asked to join the GB Pathway Squad, competing in the US Open in San Diego, where to won both a Silver and Bronze medal.
Climbing the world rankings, in 2014 he won team medals in Slovenia and Romania and in 2015 won a Bronze medal in the singles in Hungary, also taking team medals in Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and Germany, securing a Gold medal in Germany for his team with a 3-0 singles victory.
Many more medals have followed in the European Championships in Denmark, the Copa Costa Rica Cup, Men’s Class 1 Singles in Italy, the US Open in Denmark.
In 2017, Thomas moved from the GB Pathway Squad to the Performance Squad and partnered fellow Welshman Paul Davies to win Bronze at the World Team Championships in Slovakia. The following year he took Gold at the Italian Open and Bronze at his first World Championships
The Paralympic Games in Tokyo run from August 24 to September 5.