Across the UK the LGBT community is dealing with continued homophobic hate crime. This is no different for an athlete who is part of that community. We have seen in the news recently, former Wales Rugby Captain, Gareth Thomas was subjected to a homophobic attack in his home city of Cardiff on Sunday 18thNovember.
Becoming resilient to such attacks, athletes show just how much they can deal with both mentally and physically. Being disciplined in their sport and having unparalleled strength is instilled in their mindset and allows them to overcome challenges that face them throughout their career, even after retirement.
Showing his true strength, Gareth Thomas nicknamed ‘Alfie’, decided to post a message of positivity in a video surrounding his ordeal which he uploaded to twitter and said:
“This morning I have decided to make what I hope will be a positive video. Last night I was the victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality.
“Why I want it to be positive: I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do a restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way.
“And also, to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hurt us.
“But, unfortunately for them, there’s a lot more who want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message.”
Gareth has been open and honest about his attack in order to raise awareness of the adversity that not only the LGBT community are surrounded with on a daily or weekly basis, but something which all athletes are faced with in their sporting career.
How an athlete reacts in the face of adversity, shows how much strength an individual has. At some point in their career they will have to deal with situations such as; losses, judgemental teammates, coach biases, parental expectations, critical competition mistakes, under-performing at critical moments and mental mistakes.
Building resilience and creating a positive mindset to the adversities they face shows just how athletes overcome these challenges. Athletes are capable of rising above the daily adversities through a positive mindset which they’ve developed throughout their sporting careers.
Being able to speak out about challenges, fears or issues Gareth has faced and turning them into a positive experience is something which is instilled in all athletes. Gareth has truly shown his strength in speaking openly about the attack which took place, showing the world that one’s strength isn’t simply defined by physique, but by their mentality and psychological stamina.
It’s excellent to see the sporting world come together to support Gareth through this testing experience, Serge Simon, vice president of French Rugby has reached out on Twitter to Gareth saying:
“All of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic molestation you’ve been victim of. To show our support, the French rugby players will wear a rainbow show lace during the France – Fiji game on Saturday night. We’re all in with you in this matter.”
To receive such outstanding support from other countries is a testament to the type of person Gareth Thomas is, and the impact he has made on others. A symbol of support from the WRU to follow suit in the noble gesture from the French will be welcomed before their next international game against South Africa on Saturday.
To Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas, we stand by and support you. Always. A true and dear friend, colleague and teammate.
From Steve Moore, Andy Moore and the ACT team.