From the left: Laura Sherman, Debbie Jones, Rhys Jones, Jesse Askew and Allen Jones

From the left: Laura Sherman, Debbie Jones, Rhys Jones, Jesse Askew and Allen Jones.

Paralympian athlete Rhys Jones takes a well-earned break at Encantada

The 2016 Rio Olympics and Paralympics were an outstanding success for Team GB. Rhys Jones, a paralympian from the Rhondda in Wales, came home with head held high after making it into the 100 metres (T37 class) final.

On his way to the final, Rhys registered a new Personal Best of 11.77 seconds and finished 6th in the final, an excellent result after a slow start to the 2016 season. As a way of saying thank you and giving Rhys and his family all important time to relax after Rio, CLC World welcomed Rhys and his family to Florida.

Laura Sherman, Resort Management Director USA, caught up with Rhys and his family during their stay.

You’ve had a wonderful end to your competitive 2016. How did it feel to be selected for your second Paralympic Games?
It was incredible. I’d had a slow season coming up to the Paralympics and did not make the European Games but with consistent times I made it into Team GB. I finished 6th in the final, from the Rhondda and I’m 6th in the whole wide world!

What made you go into athletics?
It’s a funny story. I was never very athletic when I was younger; my Playstation was my best friend. I heard about a football club at school and decided to go. My coach was part of Disability Sport Wales and she saw some potential in me; it was then that I took up competitive running. At my first competition I tried events I’d never done before such as long jump and came home with a national record and 4 gold medals.

What support have you had from family, friends and other bodies?
All my family are brilliant and supportive.

“Every father’s dream is to see his son play sports. To see his progress is spectacular”, Rhys´ father said. “We couldn’t be more proud. It’s unbelievable that at 2 years old, when he had encephalitis and was put on life support, we were told he never be fully able to move, but his doctor knew he was a fighter as he kept trying to sit up in bed. His strength continued through his childhood as he overcame many obstacles to get where he is now.”

We were more than happy to offer you the chance to relax after all that hard training. How are you enjoying your stay at Encantada?
This year has been so manic that it is great to not be on a schedule. Staff are so friendly, everyone says hello. Even the men on the golf carts passing by will nod their heads or wave. It is nice to be able to relax in such a friendly environment. This is truly a home away from home, except better because it has a hot tub and tumbler!
“We’ve had a lovely time, thank you”, Rhys´s mother, Debbie, added. “The townhouse is superb, so comfortable and well-equipped”.

What has been the best part of your holiday?
The theme parks and the hot tub have been the highlights. When you compare Rio to Florida, then Florida really feels like a holiday. Also, you’re not always looking over your shoulder here; everyone seems so friendly and it’s very safe.

What are your plans for next year?
With the stress gone after this holiday I will start winter training, which is harsh. I’ll be training 6 days a week for 2 to 4 hours each time. That includes 250-350 repetitions. My next major competition is the World ParaAthletics Championships in London in July 2017.

Rhys is now back in training, refreshed after his stay at CLC Encantada. I’m sure you’ll join CLC World in wishing Rhys the best of luck for his forthcoming competitions.