Everyone has to start somewhere – Sir Richard Branson sold Christmas Trees.
It’s the same for athletes. Adam Peaty overcame a fear of water and joined Dove Alley Swimming Club when he was nine. He’s now a multiple Commonwealth, Olympic, World and European champion.
Nurturing young talent is arguably the most important thing about sport, developing the next generation of stars and role models.
Generations of sportsmen and women have been able to represent their nation at the Commonwealth Games, as part of their sporting journey, for many it started at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Founded in 2000, the Commonwealth Youth Games has given young athletes the chance to get their first multi-sport, international Games experience and the opportunity to represent their nation.
At Team England, we have seen the likes of Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Dina Asher-Smith, Louis Smith, Beth Tweddle, Danny Care, James DeGale and many more start at the Commonwealth Youth Games and go on to compete at the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.
This week sees visits to prospective host nations for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, Gibraltar and Trinidad and Tobago who are both hoping host the next edition of the event.
The Commonwealth Youth Games are now, and always have been, a fundamental part of Team England’s athletes. We take it very seriously and do everything we can to ensure our young talent have the best possible experience.
Of the Team England athletes that competed at last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, 16 had previously attended a Commonwealth Youth Games. We help athletes develop and progress to that next stage.
Team GB at Rio 2016 consisted of 148 athletes who had previously represented Team England at either a Commonwealth Games or Commonwealth Youth Games - 40% percent of Team GB’s entire squad.
Good luck to Gibraltar and Trinidad & Tobago, and we look forward to seeing the decision of the Commonwealth Games Federation as to who will be staging the next edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games, only a year before Birmingham 2022.
Paul Blanchard, Commonwealth Games England CEO