STEVE THOMAS urged Wales to keep cracking open the late night ‘bevvies’ after a proud Paralympic performance in Beijing.

Barry veteran Thomas, 45, took to the start line for his sixth Paralympic Games on Wednesday and finished 25th in the punishing cross-country skiing sprint event.

The Welsh ace competed at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 as a sailor after also starring at the Winter Games of Turin 2006 as an ice sledge hockey star.

Thomas took to the Zhangjiakou snow at around 2am UK-time and says the prospect of late-night pints flowing back home propelled him forward in China.

He said: “Loads of my friends and family are up watching – so a massive thanks to all them.

“I think there’ll be a few drinks. Obviously a few will have to get up for work tomorrow morning but I think there’ll definitely be a few going on.

“Their support is invaluable and I couldn’t have done this without them – I appreciate it all and hope they’re all having a few bevvies.

“It felt amazing to be on the start line. It’s been a pretty whirlwind journey over the last three years to become a Paralympian in a different sport - it’s been fantastic.

“Preparation went really well and the body felt really fresh. I’m obviously a bit disappointed with the final finish position and there’s a lot to work on – you have to push yourself to the limit.”

Thomas is the grandfather of the ParalympicsGB team in Beijing and his ties with the set-up go way back to Salt Lake City 2002.

He was unable to book his place in Utah as part of the para ice hockey squad but finally made his debut at the Summer Games of 2004.

Four more cycles followed and despite Rio 2016 looking like his final outing, he now forms part of a five-strong British Nordic skiing team alongside Scott Meenagh – who was a lone Paralympics raider for Britain at PyeongChang 2018 – Callum Deboys, Hope Gordon and Steve Arnold.

Thomas added: “ParalympicsGB probably feel like they keep wheeling me out!

“There are definitely some familiar faces around like Phil Smith [Chef de Mission] - it’s great and we are a big family, especially in Winter sports when the group is so small.

“You get to know each other and everyone is trying really hard. It’s a great feeling and you feel so supported.”

Thomas now pivots his attention to the middle distance cross-country event on Sunday that may well mark his final outing for his country on the big Paralympic stage.

He’s hellbent on leaving Beijing with no regrets and the Glamorgan star, one of over 1,000 athletes able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding, added: “It’s just about building on this and putting it all out there now.

“There’s still a lot of skiing to be done.”

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