Alice Tai will realise her dream of competing in London next week with the 2019 IPC World Para Swimming Championships lying in wait.

The Hampshire star, 20, burst onto the scene in Britain when she brought four golds back from the global gathering in Glasgow in 2015 and won Paralympic gold in Rio a year later.

But competing at the iconic London Aquatics Centre, the jewel in the crown of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has eluded the S8 athlete now based in West London.

“I’ve always wanted a home games – now my friends and family can come and support!” said Tai.

“Competing at home is brilliant, particularly if you manage to reach the top of the podium and have all the crowd singing the anthem back at you.

“I hope every athlete on the team can experience that because you get such chills.

“The British crowd is always special. I absolutely love having them behind me in close races, seeing Union Jacks everywhere. The crowd just pushes you completely.”

The British Para-Swimming team’s last major competition in the pool yielded a record 55 medals, the World Para Swimming European Championships in Dublin last summer a resounding success.

Tai was one of the stars in Ireland, claiming four gold medals from the meet and accelerating her bid to better individual 100m breaststroke bronze in Rio.

With that towering incentive and the chance to walk further in the footsteps of her heroes, Tai can’t wait for the competition to come around.

“I was lucky enough to get tickets to watch London 2012, it was my first proper taste of what it would be like to go to a Paralympic Games,” she said.

“Even though I was in the crowd, it was so inspiring and to think now I’m able to compete in the same venue and in the same team as those people, it blows my mind.

“I still see Ellie Simmonds and fangirl a bit! It’s crazy I’m friends with her, because I only ever dreamed of competing for my club at nationals and now I’m competing with her.”

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