23.04.12 -Partially sighted footballer Olympic torch bearer is hailed as role model by RNIB Cymru
A primary school teaching assistant who has overcome the barriers created by his sight loss to achieve international sporting success will carry the Olympic Torch through Caernarfon on May 28th.
Nick Thomas, 34, who works at his local village school Ysgol Gynradd Talysarn, was nominated by RNIB Cymru to carry the Olympic flame, following a recommendation by North Wales Society for the Blind.
Nick, who has Stargardt’s disease was one of around 37,000 people in the UK nominated for the role of torch bearer through the Olympic organiser, Locog.
He will be one of 115 people a day carrying the Olympic Flame on its 8,000 mile journey around the UK. In total 8,000 people will carry the flame before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012. It will light the cauldron signifying the official start of the games.
In 2003 Nick won gold for Wales in both the 100 metres and the long jump at the British Open Athletics Championships. Today he plays for England Partially Sighted Football Team and admits he would love to play for Wales if it had an international side.
Last year he also took on the additional role of running his village’s youth club. Nick is married to wife Marie and they have a 2 year old daughter named Cadi.
Nick Thomas said: “Carrying the torch is an absolutely huge honour for me. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to do it. I have watched every Olympics since I was a kid and remember seeing famous athletes carrying and lighting the flame. Growing up you just never entertain that you would be performing this once-in-a-lifetime role.
It has been an unbelievable journey ever since I heard I was nominated, to being short listed and then receiving a phone call that I had been chosen. This was followed by an email which I kept re-reading before it eventually sunk in. Now I just cannot wait to take part.”
Sarah Rochira, Director of RNIB Cymru said: “We are so thrilled that Nick’s achievements have been recognised by the Olympic organisers in this way and we will be supporting him all the way.
The fact that he has never let his sight loss prevent him from enjoying competitive sport helps make him an excellent role model, especially for the young visually impaired people that he works with. May the 28th will be a big day for both Nick and for people with sight loss throughout Wales.”
Nick will be supported on the day by family, friends and, it is hoped, by children and teachers from his school, which he attended as a child himself.