Wales rugby legend Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas captured the hearts of the Ironman Wales crowds on Sunday when he bravely lined up for the course less than 24 hours after admitting he is living with HIV.

Emotions were running high for the former national team captain throughout the day, and they spilled over when he spotted his husband Stephen and other family members amongst the throng of spectators lining Tenby’s South Parade as he set off for the first leg of the marathon.

In a touching moment, he paused to embrace Stephen across the crowd barrier before setting off in tears to focus on conquering the course.

The couple, and Thomas’s parents Yvonne and Barry, all wore t-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Your Race Your Victory’.

Support for Thomas, who gained 100 caps for Wales, was massive along the route throughout the day.

He eventually completed the course in 12:18:59, running through the finishing line into the arms of Stephen, who he married in 2016.

Also there to greet him was former Wales and British Lions teammate Shane Williams, who clocked 11:47:36.

Thomas, 45, revealed on Saturday night that he had kept his HIV diagnosis a secret for years after it was revealed to him during a routine health check.

In his video posted on his Twitter page on Saturday, Thomas told the public: “I am living with HIV.

“Now you have that information that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak.

“No, even though I have been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and break the stigma around this subject.”

This was Thomas’s first time competing in Ironman Wales, and ahead of the event he took advice from his former Welsh rugby teammate, Shane Williams who went on to gain his fourth medal in the gruelling triathlon in a time of 11.47.36.

Williams, 40, who praised Thomas as ‘one of the bravest people I know’, thanked the crowds for their ‘amazing support’ for the event. He said: “I’ve experienced nothing like it in my life”. 

Before the day, Thomas revealed he was most looking forward to the Tenby atmosphere and race-day buzz.

He said: “I just want to feel the support of people, who see people who are unbelievably vulnerable, and want to give up. But the only thing keeping them going is a complete stranger, who they’ve never met before in their life and never probably will meet again, telling them ‘you know what mate you can do it, take one more step.

High-profile figures, fellow sportspeople, and celebrities took to social media to lend their support to Thomas after he made the announcement, including Prince Harry, the Duke of Cambridge who called him ‘an absolute legend’.

During the event, a television crew were filming Thomas and his family for BBC Wales documentary Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me, which will be on BBC One Wales and BBC iPlayer on Wednesday, September 18th at 9pm.