Nine-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Petria Thomas OAM will lead the Australian team at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, becoming Australia’s first female Commonwealth Games team Chef de Mission.

Birmingham will be the eighth Commonwealth Games appearance for Thomas, after a decorated career as an athlete that saw her win three consecutive gold medals in her pet event, the women’s 100m butterfly. Post her swimming career she has served at the past four Games as part of the Australian team headquarters staff.

At her most recent Games on the Gold Coast, the 43-year-old served as a deputy to Chef de Mission Steve Moneghetti, who has signed off after three stints as team boss.

Thomas’ appointment as team Chef de Mission for Birmingham follows three Games as Athlete Services Manager and her Gold Coast role as General Manager of Team Services. Thomas has also led the Australian team at three editions of the Commonwealth Youth Games.

During a representative swimming career that spanned eight years and three Commonwealth Games, Thomas captured nine Commonwealth Games gold medals and three world titles.

Her tally of eight Olympic medals (three gold, four silver, one bronze) is equal with two other Commonwealth Games legends, Dawn Fraser and Susie O’Neill, as the best by an Australian woman. She was Australian swim team captain from 2001-2004, was three times crowned the Australian Institute of Sport’s Athlete of the Year (2001, 2002 and 2004), won the 2004 ‘The Don’ Award, and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thomas said she was honoured to be appointed the leader of the Australian team.

“I’ve had the privilege to work alongside and learn from Mona [Moneghetti] at the last three Games and will take the learnings from this experience into the role,” she said. “Steve leaves some big shoes to fill and whilst I will strive to fill those shoes, I will draw on my own experience and skills to forge my own path as team leader.

“The Commonwealth Games provided me with the moment that made me realise that I was good enough to compete on the world stage. This was a priceless, life-changing moment, and I’m sure if you asked other Commonwealth Games athletes, they would share their own individual stories of how the Commonwealth Games have positively influenced their life.

“This experience has shown me that the Commonwealth Games provide a wonderful opportunity for athletes to showcase themselves, their talent, and their Aussie spirit and pride to the world.

“I want to lead a team that builds on the legacy and success of past teams, particularly Gold Coast 2018, and be a driver of efforts to create a performance focus and positive experience for our Birmingham 2022 team.”

Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) Chief Executive Officer Craig Phillips said Thomas was the logical successor to the long-serving Moneghetti.

“Petria has served the perfect apprenticeship under Mona and brings the experiences as an athlete and team executive member from seven previous Games to the role,” he said.

“She has also shown through her leadership of our teams to the Commonwealth Youth Games that she is more than capable of heading up a team in her own right.

“Petria is respected by all athletes, and like Mona, will no doubt bring her own style to the important role of galvanising the Australian team, as has occurred at the past three Games.”

Thomas will head to Birmingham as part of a CGA delegation to mark three years to go to the Games. The Games, which will be staged from 27 July – 7 August 2022, is set to feature 19 sports across 12 days of sporting and cultural festivities.

Games organisers recently announced a proposal to add Para-table tennis to the list of existing Para-sports including 3×3 wheelchair basketball, Para-athleticsPara-cycling, Para-lawn bowls, Para-powerlifting, Para-swimming and Para-triathlon.

CGA is planning to send one of its largest teams to ever compete in an away campaign, with more than 400 athletes expected to represent Australia.

Australia was represented by 473 athletes on the Gold Coast, where they topped the medal tally with 80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze medals.

Petria Thomas at the Commonwealth Games
Year Venue Result Event
1994 Victoria, Canada Gold Women’s 100m butterfly
Gold Women’s 4x100m medley relay
1998 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Gold Women’s 100m butterfly
Gold Women’s 4x100m medley relay
Silver Women’s 200m butterfly
2002 Manchester, England Gold Women’s 50m butterfly
Gold Women’s 100m butterfly
Gold Women’s 200m butterfly
Gold Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Gold Women’s 4x100m medley relay
Silver Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay
Bronze Women’s 200m freestyle
Team Official – Commonwealth Games
Year Venue Position
2006 Melbourne, Australia Athlete Services Manager
2010 Delhi, India Athlete Services Manager
2014 Glasgow, Scotland Athlete Services Manager
2018 Gold Coast, QLD General Manager – Team Services
Team Official – Commonwealth Youth Games
Year Venue Position
2004 Bendigo, VIC Team General Manager
2008 Pune, India Team General Manager
2011 Isle of Man Team General Manager

By Commonwealth Games Australia
Posted: 02/07/2019
Photo with thanks to Sport Australia