Off the back of Team England’s most successful Commonwealth Games to date, Team England has announced the launch of ‘Golden Gateways’; a legacy-leaving initiative that will celebrate the host nation’s gold medal-winning athletes by installing golden plaques at sporting venues across the country.
Team England’s gold medallists will each nominate their sporting venue of significance; somewhere that has had an impact on their sporting journey, be it the club where they first tried their sport out, a school, gym or a local leisure centre. Over the coming weeks, each venue will be gifted a ‘Golden Gateway’ plaque to symbolise its role as each athlete’s personal ‘gateway’ into the sport, setting them on the road to Commonwealth Games success for Team England.
To say a lasting ‘thank you’ to the venue that helped them find the path to Commonwealth Games glory, cyclist Dame Laura Kenny has chosen Welwyn Wheelers Cycling Club as her Golden Gateway destination, whilst Para Swimmer Maisie Summers-Newton would like to thank Northampton Swimming Club. Gymnast Alice Kinsella has chosen to recognise Park Wrekin Gymnastic Club in Telford as a leading light in her journey to Commonwealth Games gold, and Johnboy Smith selected Cyclopark in Gravesend. The Golden Gateway plaques will remain indefinitely to inspire future generations and offer a lasting celebration of sporting success.
Dame Laura Kenny said: “Welwyn Wheelers cycling club was such an important part of my cycling journey and without it I might never have had the incredible success and experiences that cycling has brought me, or this Commonwealth Games gold medal, which means so much. I’m so proud to call it my ‘Golden Gateway’ location and to have the plaque installed there. It’s my way of saying thank you.”
Maisie Summers-Newton said: “I’m thrilled to be able to acknowledge Northampton Swimming Club and celebrate the impact that Club and coaches had on my sporting career and passion for swimming. I hope my golden plaque will help inspire a new generation of swimmers.”
Alice Kinsella said: “I’m so proud to call Park Wrekin Gymnastic Club in Telford my ‘Golden Gateway’ location and to have the plaque installed there, recognising the contribution that everyone there made to my gymnastics career. It’s a great way to say a huge thank you.”
Rhythmic Gymnast, Marfa Ekimova, added: “I chose Perivale as this is where my gym - West London Gymnastics - is located. It is a special place as it’s where all the hours of hard work and emotions happen and all the support from my coaches I get there is immense - a piece of my medal definitely belongs to Perivale!”
Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games England, adds, “The Golden Gateway campaign is our way of celebrating the success of Team England’s athletes while also paying homage to sports venues across the country. From leisure centres and schools to sports clubs and gyms, we want to recognise the role that these sporting institutions and locations play in helping people to fall in love with sport all around the nation.
“We are immensely proud of all of the Team England athletes that have passed through these ‘Golden Gateway’ venues on their way to medal success at the Games; their legacy will inspire many sportspeople of the future.”
The news comes off the back of Team England securing its best-ever Commonwealth Games medal haul with 176 won in Birmingham, surpassing the previous medal record of 174 set at Glasgow 2014. Birmingham 2022 was also Team England’s most diverse Games team to date with medallists aged from 17 to 74 years old. The team featured 65 para-athletes (16% of the team total) who picked up an impressive 32 medals, and, for the first time, there were more women than men (223 to 203) representing the host nation.