Commonwealth Games England (CGE) has appointed Paul Blanchard as its new Chief Executive Officer to strengthen the commercial operation and world-class support for athletes in the build-up to Gold Coast 2018.

CGE aims to draw on Blanchard’s 20 years of sports management and commercial experience to build on success in Glasgow 2014, when Team England topped the medal table for the first time in 28 years.

As the CEO of the £36m Surrey Sports Park elite training facility, Blanchard has hosted top international competitions and worked with some of the world’s top teams including 16 Olympic and Paralympic teams ahead of London 2012.

As well as a detailed understanding of the needs of athletes, Blanchard brings the commercial acumen required to continue to build the Team England brand. He was previously Chief Executive of Harlequins Rugby League and Sales and Marketing Director at Surrey County Cricket Club between 2004 and 2008, securing the largest domestic cricket sponsorship deal in Surrey's history.

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) Chairman Ian Metcalfe said:“Topping the kind of performance Team England delivered at Glasgow 2014 is the toughest challenge for any sports team. We are determined to build on this success and Paul has the experience and knowledge to continue to strengthen CGE’s sporting and commercial performance as we prepare for Gold Coast 2018. Paul’s impressive leadership skills, knowledge of sports business and track record of delivering commercial success shone among a set of outstanding candidates.”

New Commonwealth Games England CEO Paul Blanchard said:“Working with top athletes and their teams for more than 20 years I know the support they need to prepare and compete to their best potential and the importance of a strong brand to help deliver and fund great performance. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on the power, appeal and success of Team England. Gold Coast 2018 is going to be incredibly competitive and we will work tirelessly to capitalise on the great potential that exists for Team England.”

Glasgow 2014 was Team England’s most successful Commonwealth Games in 28 years, with 426 athletes winning 176 medals to top the medal table. In the run-up to the Games, CGE brought the Queen’s Baton Relay to millions of people and used the relay to inspire people across the country to take up sport.