In just 150 days, the eyes of the world will be fixated on Birmingham for the 22nd Commonwealth Games, as England’s second city becomes the third English city to host the Games, following London in 1934 and Manchester in 2002.
This year’s Commonwealth Games is sure to be one of sport’s biggest highlights of 2022. With the countdown underway to the summer spectacle, the hopeful athletes will be starting to prepare for their respective events. Following on from a sensational Olympic Games in Tokyo for Team GB, there will be a lot of home nation athletes on the hunt for medals in July, albeit under the flag of their individual nations. Here are some of the British stars to keep a close eye on in the summer.
Adam Peaty MBE (Swimming, England)
Everyone is well aware of Peaty’s incredible accomplishments in the pool, having three Olympic and three Commonwealth Games gold medals in his collection in a stellar career. Having already won consecutive golds in the 100m breaststroke at the last two Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Gold Coast respectively, the Uttoxeter-born swimmer will undoubtedly have his eyes on a third along with bettering his two previous silvers in the 50m breaststroke.
After his glowing success at the Tokyo Olympic last summer and a dry-off on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Peaty will be raring to get back in the pool to make more history.
Laura Muir (Women’s 1500m, Scotland)
Scotland’s Muir will be heading into Birmingham full of confidence after a triumphant silver medal at Tokyo 2020 in which she set a British record-breaking time of 3:54:50 and has already said that she has “unfinished business” at the Commonwealth Games.
This is a result of her qualifying for the Gold Coast Games but not competing due to it coinciding with her veterinary exams and before that, on home soil in Glasgow, she could only muster up an 11th-placed finish. She will be hungry to get her hands on her first medal at the Commonwealth Games and with her outstanding run in Japan, she finds herself in a strong position to better her Glasgow performance considerably.
Jake Heyward (Men’s 1500m, Wales)
The 22-year-old runner is tipped as Wales’ best hope for a medal in Birmingham this summer. He did extremely well to qualify for the Olympic final in Tokyo, and he also boasts success as a former European under-18 and under-20 champion.
Heyward’s successes as a young champion could help inspire him to success in Birmingham, as well as the fact that he will be representing the colours of Wales for the first time.
Max Whitlock MBE (Artistic Gymnastics, England)
Whitlock is decorated with success in gymnastics and he will be relishing the chance to win more this summer. He has four gold medals at the event and will be widely tipped to win a fifth in Birmingham next year. His gold in the pommel horse at the Tokyo Olympics was sensational, and will serve as the perfect warm-up for a big performance in the second city.
With an impressive collection of 10 medals gathered across the last three Games, it is very likely that Whitlock will have another impressive summer lying in wait later this year.
Rhys McClenaghan (Artistic Gymnastics, Northern Ireland)
Whitlock commands more fame in the pommel horse event, but he will be rivalled by Northern Irishman McClenaghan in Birmingham, having narrowly beaten the Englisman to the gold medal at Gold Coast 2018. He has already made history in his homeland by becoming the first artistic gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games and in 2018, their first ever European champion.
There will be a lot of hope, but also a lot of pressure on him to retain his gold medal this year.
Alex Yee, Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jonny Brownlee, Sophie Coldwell (Triathlon Mixed Relay, England)
There will be a lot of attention on Team England’s mixed triathlon team in Birmingham in the summer after three of the team’s members won gold in this event at Tokyo 2020 in Yee, Taylor-Brown and Brownlee.
The Olympics last year were set to bring the curtain down on Brownlee’s career but after the Olympic gold, he had a change of heart and he described his delight at being selected for Team England for his third Commonwealth Games. After their excellent display at the Olympics, they will come into Birmingham as the favourites for this event, and with just cause.
Dina Asher-Smith (Women’s 200m, England)
Everyone remembers the great feeling of empathy toward the 200m star after her Olympic dreams were shattered as she picked up a hamstring injury in the build-up to Tokyo 2020. It ruined her qualification for the 100m and led her to pull out of her favoured 200m. Her teary interview with the BBC will be remembered by almost everyone who tuned in that day, and there isn’t anyone they would like to see enjoy success at Birmingham 2022 than the 26-year-old.
She has already made it her mission to make up for lost time by winning gold in the event across three competitions over a five-week period, with the Commonwealth Games on her to-do list.
Alice Kinsella (Artistic Gymnastics, England)
20-year-old Kinsella will be relishing the chance to compete in her current city of residence and will head into this year’s Games as the current Balance Beam champion, having claimed gold at Gold Coast 2018. She also enjoyed success in the women’s team all-around helping England claim a silver medal and she also claimed a bronze medal in the individual all-around.
Kinsella followed her success four years ago with a bronze medal in the women’s team all-around in her debut appearance at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last summer. In front of a home crowd, there is a growing excitement as to what she can achieve in Birmingham later this year.