Pembrokeshire swimmer Lily Rice's bronze secured Wales' first medal in the pool at 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

The 18-year-old from Manorbier finished third in the S8 100m backstroke on Sunday evening in a tough contest dominated by world record holder Alice Tai of England.

Tai clocked a time of 1:13:64 to win by more than four seconds from New Zealand's Tupou Neiufi in 1:17.91, with Lily Rice, claiming third place in 1:23.06.

Lily made her sporting name originally as a 'wheelchair backflipper' before being included in Wales' swimming team for the Commonwealth Games, initially as a reserve just six months ago.

Family, friends, coaches, fellow swimmers from Pembrokeshire County swimming got together to watch the race at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, and there were huge cheers when Lily powered home to claim a medal.

Followers of Lily will know that she is no stranger to picking up medals – she is a world champion in WCMX (women’s wheelchair motocross) and the first female in Eiurpe to land a wheelchair backflip.

"It's absolutely amazing," said Lily after claiming bronze.

"At the start we thought we were doing heats and finals and initially I was getting a bit stressed about that.

"But I'm so glad we've done just finals because I haven't been well over the last few weeks. It feels great, I'm top three so I'll take that."

READ MORE: Cyclist James Ball wins Wales' first gold at Birmingham Games

BBC presenter Clare Balding described Lily’s dual sporting achievements as ‘fantastic’.

And Paralympian Ellie Simmonds recounted how Lily was inspired by the Paralympic swimmers in the Tokyo Olympics to make a return to the swimming pool where was a rising competitive star as a younger teenager.

“I’ve put in a lot of work in the pool and in the gym, which has paid off,” said Lily.

“Representing Wales at a Commonwealth Games is a dream come true.”

Lily, a pupil at Tenby’s Greenhill School, started her aquatic journey on the PCS pathway as a child when she attended swimming lessons at Tenby Leisure Centre.

She progressed through the Learn to Swim programme and moved on to swim for a local swimming club.

Lily had a break from swimming for a few years and had a successful career competing in wheelchair motocross (WCMX), becoming world champion.

To continue her journey on the swimming pathway, she returned to the pool in January and has been training six times per week with Pembrokeshire County Swimming.

Her aim was always qualify for the Commonwealth Games.

Lily’s training included attending swimming sessions at Haverfordwest Leisure Centre, gym sessions with Strength Academy Wales and training camps with Swim Wales.

Her lead coach Nick Russell said: “Lily has shown great commitment to training and learning over the past seven months.

"She has an athlete’s mind-set and this combined with her commitment has helped her achieve her goal.”

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