Mary Waya, Malawi

Mary Waya has taken on international netball matches, has opened her own netball academy, and has started her own foundation; now she’s taking on the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay as a Batonbearer.

From a young age Mary had always been exposed to the world of sport. Her parents played in the police football and netball teams, and her older siblings followed in their footsteps, with three of her older brothers played for the Malawi National Football Team. Once, when they visited England for a training camp, they brought back a netball for Mary and her sisters to play with and her passion was ignited!

She began playing internationally when she was 14, since then she has represented her country in over 200 games and helped them secure their highest ever placing of fifth at the Netball World Cup in 2007. Over her 25-year career she has played in three previous Commonwealth Games including Kuala Lumpur 1998, Melbourne 2006, and Delhi 2010. She has now retired from playing but is still engaged with sports and the community.

In 2011 she started own netball academy with her major objective being to reach as many girls as possible with the message of hope, especially to those who may not otherwise have had the chance to show and grow their talents.

Mary has continued her philanthropy through founding the Mary Waya Foundation. The foundation works together with other charities to tackle local issues such as child marriage and abuse. Through the foundation she also raises money to build netball courts and centres for her Netball Academy. She is passionate about giving young girls opportunities, guiding them along a happy and healthy path and helping them flourish.

Watch Mary talk about what the Commonwealth Games and sport mean to her:

Thomas Borg, Malta

20-year-old Thomas Borg represented Malta as Batonbearer during the second stop along the route of the Queen’s Baton Relay.

Thomas, who was born with an underdeveloped right arm, has been an avid sportsperson all his life. He started out playing football, then switched to swimming. He had been aiming to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, however an injury sustained during training sadly ended his para-swimming career.

Ever-determined, Thomas switched his attention to sprinting and, thanks to his training efforts and dedication, he still qualified for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He competed in the Men’s 100m T47 and 400m T47 race, he placed 6th in the latter, setting a new national record and personal best for his time!

Following his success, he now has his eyes firmly set on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and future events.

Watch the video below to hear Thomas discuss inclusivity and taking on challenges.

Noemi Alphonse, Mauritius

Noemi Alphonse is a 25-year-old para-athlete from Mauritius. She has represented her country at many international events and competitions and now she can add the Queen’s Baton Relay to that list. Noemi was a Batonbearer during the visit to Mauritius and carried the Baton around the Mahebourg Waterfront.

Noemi was born with a limb deficiency and was fitted with a prosthetic leg when she was just eight months old, yet she managed to learn to walk when she was only nine months old. She started her sporting journey at the age of eight, when she took up judo to help her deal with the bullying she was experiencing.

She discovered para-sport when she was 19 and since then has made history as the first Mauritian para-athlete to have participated in a final of the Paralympic Games. Noemi competed in two events in the Tokyo Paralympics, during which she set a new African record in the T54 1500m. This accomplishment adds to the list of her achievements including eight national records and four area records. In 2019, Noemi was named Sports Personality of the Year and Female Para Athlete of the Year in the physical impairment category at the 2019 National Sports Awards in Mauritius.

She is a passionate about not letting disability hold anybody back and wants to improve the integration of sport and para-sport.