A CONTACT-tracing advisor is about to swap slowing the spread of Covid-19 in Powys for helping the UK’s top athletes win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Strength and conditioning specialist, Neil Lewis, from Bettws Cedewain, near Newtown, has been part of Powys County Council’s successful contact tracing team for the last five months.

Alongside his role fighting the spread of Covid-19, he has continued his work for British Equestrian as Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach, making sure its riders are in peak condition for the Olympics.

It will be the first time Neil has been on the plane to the Olympics, but not the first time he has worked to prepare GB athletes for the game.

He said: “I’m incredibly excited to be working with Team GB. Across four Olympic cycles I have worked with GB Rowing, Sailing and Equestrian teams.

“So, I’ve been preparing athletes since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but this will be the first time I’ve actually been on the plane to the games for the final weeks of preparation.

“I will be working on everything from gymnastics and hockey to weightlifting. There will be 10 different sports coming into the final preparation training camp while I am there.

“I was selected to go to the Rio Olympics, but because of the Zika virus outbreak, the size of the training camp was scaled down and unfortunately I missed out.

“It was massively disappointing, but here we are again four years later, and I am really looking forward to it.”

During the pandemic, Neil has been advising those who have tested positive for Covid-19, and their close contacts, to self-isolate and more recently providing telephone support to Powys Teaching Health Board’s mass vaccination programme.

Neil will be in Japan for a month helping the GB athletes to prepare.

He said: “When a lot of the events are on, I will be working because that is what you are there to do.

“I will be able to catch up on the day’s events and results each evening but many back home will probably see more live coverage of the games.

“I think it is going to be different to any other Olympics that has gone before. The over-riding priority is going to be the safety of the public and athletes alike – which is completely understandable and right.

“At this Olympics there will be no international spectators and there will be limited physical interaction between the Japanese public, athletes and support teams.”

Councillor Graham Breeze, Powys County Council’s portfolio holder for corporate governance, engagement and regulatory services, wished Neil success when he travels to Tokyo.

He added: “If they work as effectively as our Test, Trace, Protect team has done in Powys ¬– with their contact tracing work and support for the mass vaccination programme – they will be onto a winner, I’m sure.”