The Commonwealth Games are a celebration of small country sports

The Commonwealth Games are a celebration of small country sports

British comedian Sir Lenny Henry during a pre-Commonwealth Games activity in Birmingham.Image Getty Images for Birmingham 2022

Led by the Australian team, 5,000 athletes from 72 countries will parade Thursday night at Alexander Stadium, the 46-year-old athletics stadium in England’s second largest city, Birmingham. The host is Crown Prince Charles, who replaced his 96-year-old mother. Queen Elizabeth is so helpless to attend the sports festival of a post-colonial confederation, thanks to which she is still alive: the Commonwealth of Nations, formerly known as the British Commonwealth.

For a week and a half, 280 matches will be played in twenty sports. Championship national anthem a hero By UB40, the famous reggae band from Birmingham. Some sports have a British touch. For example, netball, the British sister of korfball, and turf bowls, jeu de boules on the lawn. Also, women will play cricket tournament for the first time. This is a saving grace from the 2012 Olympics when an opportunity to revive cricket as an Olympic discipline was missed. Football is noticeably absent.

Upon entering, you will pass countries, especially islands that will be unknown to many, such as Niue, Norfolk (population 1784) and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The youngest delegation comes from Montserrat. The Caribbean island sends five male athletes. Thanks to the opening of an airport in 2016, participants from Saint Helena, the Atlantic island where Napoleon was exiled, are making the relatively short journey. Previously, the trip to the Commonwealth Games for the inhabitants of these islands began with a five-day boat trip to Cape Town.

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Remarkably, the most famous participant represents the Isle of Man. The standard-bearer of this Irish Sea tax haven is cyclist Mark Cavendish. Gold could be a consolation prize for the 37-year-old after a disappointing road race at the 2012 Olympics. Another well-known competitor is Adam Peaty, the Olympic king of breaststroke who has just recovered from a broken foot. The British can also see Max Whitlock in action, the first Briton to win an Olympic gold medal in horseback gymnastics in Rio in 2016.

Most of the international attention will be given to those areas where Commonwealth citizens also dominate at the World Championships or at the Olympic Games. This concerns, for example, the 400-meter distance for men. Of the eight finalists at the last World Championships in Oregon, six are taking part, including South African world record holder Wade Van Niekerk and current Olympic champion Stephen Gardiner of the Bahamas. In the men’s 10km race, world record holder Joshua Cheptegei is the top candidate.

In the battle at the medal table, you will be mainly between the great powers England (439 participants) and Australia (427). India is coming to Birmingham with 215 athletes. This Asian country almost boycotted the games, unhappy with the organization’s decision to remove the sport of shooting from the program. In the end, India decided to come after all. Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra will miss out with injury, a disappointment to Birmingham’s large Indian community.

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