The time is 11:52am on Friday morning. Alex Yee has just crossed the finish line waving the St George’s flag aloft and grinning from ear to ear safe in the knowledge that his gold has well and truly opened Team England’s medal floodgates. Fast forward 12 hours. The sun set on an action-packed opening day at Birmingham 2022 that saw the home team nab enough precious metal to rival the jewellery quarter.
Luckily, it was only one short sleep before it all gets going again on day two. You’ll have to have got up early if you want to catch the beginning of the marathon events leaving from Smithfield at 7am. If it’s been too early and you’re up and about have finished your Saturday breakfast, you’ll be able to catch the end of the race at Victoria square. In the mix for Team England in the men’s race is Jonny Mellor while the women’s sees Georgina Schwiening hit the roads of Birmingham. Travelling all around the iconic host city, they won’t quite have time to stop in Bournville for a chocolate bar, but maybe there’s time for a whiff of cocoa as they venture through the chocolate capital and resist the temptation of a trip to Cadbury World. The pair were amongst the first members of the athletics team to be announced so it has been a long waiting game for them to finally get to the start line. In the T54 race it’s Simon Lawson, usually spotted training with his Jack Russell, Ezram alongside 2018 silver medallist Johnboy Smith and a man who needs no introduction, David Weir. The 43-year-old Weirwolf will have his eyes on yet another medal to add to his hefty collection that already boasts six paralympic golds, eight London marathon victories and six World Championship titles.
Talk about a stark change in activity, the next shot at a medal comes in weightlifting. With a wide range of weight categories all in action at the NEC, you can be sure there’s a hefty amount of tin to be lifted in pursuit of gold. Up first it’s men’s 55kg and 61kg and later in the day it’s the turn of the women’s 49kg and 55kg. Keep your eyes on five-time English champion Fraer Morrow in the women’s 55kg. She came fourth on the Gold Coast and is now hungry for a medal on home soil. She admits her dream is to win the Commonwealth Games and bag a spot at the Olympics in 2024 so she’s aiming high. Plus, when not just hungry for medals, her favourite snack is doughnuts so if that isn’t a great competition fuel, who knows what is?! In the men’s 55kg it’s self-proclaimed “walking meme” Ben Hickling aiming to lift big and win bigger. The British record holder only took up the sport in 2018 so this is his first Commonwealth Games. While Fraer chooses doughnuts, it’s all about yoghurt and chocolate milk for Ben. The big question is: “which snack will come out on top?”
As always, there are far more events than just those with medals on offer. We’ve picked out just a few where you can get behind Team England or even have a glimpse at a sport you may have never seen before:
3 x 3 basketball and 3 x 3 wheelchair basketball are new to the Commonwealth Games and what an addition they have already proved to be. The crowds flocked to Smithfield on Friday to see what the fuss was about, and they were not left disappointed. Both Team England’s men’s and women’s wheelchair teams bagged convincing wins and day two is the turn of the rest of the 3 x 3 crew. It’s a relentless test of skill, fitness and precision sprinkled with party atmosphere and mega tunes nestled in the middle of the Smithfield ‘festival’ site. What’s not to love? It’s a busy day for both English teams with two matches each so there’s plenty of opportunity to see them in action and catch the 3 x 3 bug. Warning – it’s VERY contagious!
Also hitting the Games for the first time is Women’s T20 Cricket. Heather Knight and her team will be taking on Sri Lanka at Edgbaston at 6pm, despite the skipper missing the fixture with a slight injury. Fortress Edgbaston has long been a battleground for England cricketers and the squad will be hoping to launch their campaign with a convincing win as they seek to enter unchartered Commonwealth waters. The cricket tournament features some of the top teams in world cricket so stamping authority early on and elevating the nerves of the other seven nations is a must.
Don’t forget everything else that is going on too, but if this preview gets too long, you won’t have time to watch it all! What a weekend we are in for. I’m heading to bed now so the time flies faster and the excitement can start again. Every night feels like Christmas Eve right now.