Originally from Bridgend in Wales, Gareth 'Alfie' Thomas has become one of the most iconic figures in world rugby. His career began in a small youth club in Bridgend, and has since rocketed into the sport's stratospheres, with his 1995 debut for Wales marking the beginning of an exceptional international career.
The versatile player has done it all in the game, with a staggering list of achievements to his name: he has over 100 caps for his home country, making him Wales' most-capped rugby player, and is listed 10th on the all time list; he is 9th highest try scorer in the world, and is one of just 7 players to have scored 4 tries in a match; he was captain of Wales' Grand Slam winning team in 2005, and also captained the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand that year. In 2005, he was named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in recognition of his outstanding achievements.
Most recently, Gareth Thomas made the historic switch to rugby league when he signed with the Crusaders in March 2010. His performances have been nothing short of remarkable and he is certainly making the most of his final playing years as he was recently called up to the Wales Rugby League team for their international matches October 2010 and even scored a try on his debut.
Off the field, Gareth Thomas' personal life hit the headlines in December 2009 when he famously revealed to the world that he was gay. This iconic revelation makes him the only openly gay high profile sportsman in the UK. Most significantly Gareth is still playing the game, a unique position that continues to give him enormous pride. Although he never downplays the significance of this achievement, he hopes to see a day when it is no longer an issue in the game at all. 'I don't want to be known as a gay rugby player. I am a rugby player, and first and foremost I am a man'.
Since 'coming out' Gareth's profile has risen dramatically with high demand for appearances in television documentaries, chat shows and feature films both in the UK and abroad, and in August 2010 he was voted top of the Pink List for the 101 Most Influential Gay People in the UK.
Gareth Thomas is an ambassador for LGBT, a public supporter of ChildLine and recently launched a new Diversity Management Training Programme. This initiative aims to increase diversity awareness in businesses and stresses the importance of inclusion and teamwork in the workplace.
Gareth Thomas uses his unique situation to captivate audiences with heartfelt corporate talks about his impressive sporting career, as well as his personal life and the difficulties he experienced when trying to come to term with his sexuality.
The frankness and openness of his experiences delivered through sincere and eloquent speeches make him a rare and accomplished orator, as well as one of the most compelling sports personalities around.
I just wanted to say thank you so much for helping us bring Gareth Thomas to Fidelity last week. It was incredibly well received as an event and has really put our focus on diversity clearly on the map internally. I can't think of any way in which it could have gone better. Please do pass on our sincere thanks to Gareth.
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