The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 28th July until 8th August 2022. It will be the largest sports event to be held in the UK since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the biggest event the West Midlands has ever staged!
The Commonwealth Games is a unique championship as it follows an integrated programme, with disabled and non-disabled athletes competing across the same schedule, creating a real sense of unity among the national teams. This integrated approach means there is no separate event or ticket for para-sport events, and a medal won by a para-athlete in the Men's T54 Wheelchair 1500m, contributes to a nation's medal tally in the same way as the Men's 1500m.
Sport and VI Athletes at the Games
The Games promise to be a truly inclusive and unforgettable 11 days of sport. Birmingham 2022 has confirmed the largest-ever female and para sport programme in Commonwealth Games history. Over 4,500 athletes will compete across 19 sports and 8 para-sports including wheelchair basketball, para athletics, para swimming, para cycling, para table tennis, para triathlon, para lawn bowls and para powerlifting.
British Blind Sport is excited for the Games to begin and wish the athletes the best of luck! Here's a rundown of the sports and the UK’s blind and partially sighted athletes who are set to compete...
Athletics has been a feature of the Commonwealth Games since the inaugural event in 1930. Events will be held at the Alexander Stadium from 30th July [marathon] through to 2nd August, as well as 7th August [track and field]. There are 59 medals to be won, with events lasting from 10 seconds to two days! Field events include high jump, pole vault, long jump, triple jump and shot put, whereas track events consist of sprints, middle-distance, long-distance, hurdles and relays.
England: Zac Shaw will compete in his second Commonwealth Games, he competes in T12 sprinting in both the 100m and 200m. Zac is one of only four T12 athletes worldwide to go sub11 this year over 100m. You can find more about Zac’s journey into sport at: https://britishblindsport.org.uk/zac-shaw/
Swimming has also been featured at the Commonwealth Games since 1930, but this is the first time that the games will be including visually impaired classifications in the para-swimming programme. Competitions will take place from 29th July to 3rd August, with heats from 10.30am-12.30pm and a three-hour final every night beginning at 7pm. The Sandwell Aquatics Centre, a new £73 million facility currently under construction, will be the busiest venue at the Games, with a total of 40 swimming, 14 para-swimming, and 12 diving medals.
England: Hannah Russell OBE and Rebecca Redfern will both compete for Team England in the para swimming. Hannah is a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, but this will be her first Commonwealth Games. Rebecca will also make her Commonwealth Games debut, having won two silver medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
She said: “It’s really exciting to have a home Games… It’s the first time I’ve competed at an integrated Championships with both para and able-bodied athletes as well so that’s really exciting to train, live and compete together as one team so that we can learn from each other.”
Scotland: Triple Paralympic medallist Stephen Clegg and Rio Silver Medalist Abby Kane will make their Commonwealth debut and compete for Team Scotland at Birmingham 2022.
Cycling made its debut at the second Commonwealth Games in 1934 and has featured at every Games since. Cycling events will be held at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London. The track cycling will take place from 29th July to 1st August. The tandem sprint, which features VI athletes, is a five-lap race. Following a 200m time trial qualifier, riders are seeded into two-rider heats, with the winners advancing to the next round of competition. From the quarter-finals onwards the winner is determined from the best of three heats.
England: Para-Cyclist World Champion Paralympic Medalist Sophie Unwin and Double Paralympic gold medallist Steve Bate will compete for Team England at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Sophie rode a tandem for the first time in 2020, she won World Cup bronze weeks later and took road race silver and bronze in the individual pursuit at the Paralympics in Tokyo. Steve is a champion in the velodrome and on the road, winning gold medals in both at Rio 2016.
Scotland: Neil Fachie MBE is hoping to defend his titles at the Games, after winning gold in 2018 in both the Tandem B Kilo and Tandem B Sprint. Neil is the World Record holder for both of these events and is a four-time Paralympic champion. Neil hopes to become Scotland's most decorated athlete by winning gold in Birmingham. Aileen McGlynn OBE will also compete. She has three Paralympic gold medals and four World titles but has yet to win a Commonwealth gold medal having picked up silver and bronze medals in Glasgow and Gold Coast respectively. Cycling newcomer Libby Clegg MBE completes a trio of visually impaired athletes in the para-sport events. Libby won double gold in the 100m and 200m sprint events at Rio 2016. She returned to the athletics track for the final time in Tokyo before hanging up her spikes and starting a new adventure in cycling.
Wales: Alex Pope, Nia Holt and James Ball will compete for Wales. James won two silver medals at Gold Coast 2018 in the Tandem B Kilo and Tandem B Sprint.
Para-triathlon made its Games debut in 2018, but this will be the fifth appearance of mainstream triathlon at the Games. The competition will be held at Sutton Park in Birmingham from 29th until 31st July. Triathlon competitors must master three endurance disciplines, making it one of the most physically demanding sporting events! The race begins with an open water swim and transitions into a cycle ride, before finishing with a run to the end. The first across the finish line wins.
There are five medal events in the Birmingham 2022 triathlon competition; individual women, individual men, para individual women, para individual men and a ‘mixed team relay’ event.
England: Katie Crowhurst, Oscar Kelly, Dave Ellis and Iain Dawson will compete for England in triathalon. The Games will be Oscar’s debut, having finished sixth in his first senior event in 2021. Dave had a successful swimming career for Team GB before switching to triathlon and winning both the World and European titles in 2017 and 2018. Katie secured a silver medal on her international debut in 2021, a week before finishing sixth at her first World Triathlon Para Championships. Iain has won three European and six World triathlon titles from sprint to Ironman, duathlon (run-bike-run) and aquathlon (swim-run).
Scotland: Alison Peasgood will represent Scotland. Alison has been crowned European Champion three times (2015, 2016, 2018) and World Champion twice (2014, 2016). On top of this, she has also competed at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, in which she took silver in the PTVI category, and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Wales: Para triathlete Rhys Jones has been announced as part of Team Wales. Rhys made his international debut for Great Britain in 2020, with 2021 seeing him place second in the national championships and third at World Triathlon Para Cup Alhandra in October. He is set to make history as Wales’s first-ever para triathlete at a Commonwealth Games.
Northern Ireland: Three para-triathletes will compete for Team NI at the Games, the Maccombe twins Chole and Judith and Oliver Gunning. Chole and Judith have both won Irish National Championships and will go head-to-head against each other for a medal as they are competing in the same race at the Commonwealth Games. Oliver represented Ireland at the 2021 Europe Triathlon Championships in Valencia, achieving a 12th-place finish and was the youngest para-competitor in the World Triathlon Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi last November.
Lawn Bowls is one of the core sports at the Commonwealth Games. It has been played at every Games since 1930, with the exception of Kingston in 1966, where there were no lawn bowls facilities. Competitors take it in turns to roll their bowls. Points are awarded for each bowl that is closest to the jack. This year, the lawn bowls will be held at Victoria Park in Leamington Spa from July 29th to August 6th.
England: Alison Yearling and Chris Turnbull will star in the lawn bowls event, with mother and son duo Sue Wherry and Mark Wherry acting as their directors. It will be Alison’s second Games, but Chris’s first. They are aiming for gold in the pairs event.
Scotland: Scotland will be represented by Melanie Inness and Robert Barr. It’s Melanie’s first Games, with Robert returning after a 4th place finish at the Gold Coast Games in 2018. Robert is captain of the Scottish para bowls squad and is a three-time champion in the national singles event.
Wales: Gordon Llewellyn and Julie Thomas will compete for Wales. Julie is hoping to improve on her bronze medal performance at Gold Coast 2018.
10th Commonwealth Karate Championships 2022
The Commonwealth Karate Championships is an event that is organised by the Commonwealth Karate Federation, which aims to demonstrate that competition karate is suitable for inclusion in the Commonwealth Games. The 10th Commonwealth Karate Championships will be held in the city of Birmingham from the 7th to 11th September 2022.
England: Paralympic Skier Millie Knight has been selected to represent England at the competition. It will be her first time competing in front of a home crowd at a major championship.
Where to Watch
The BBC have exclusive rights to broadcast the games in the UK. Viewers will be able to watch the games across the BBC’s television channels as well as on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport. Visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00v7pls
Visit the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games website to find out more about the event or view the full competition schedule. Link: birmingham2022.com
RNIB Connect Radio's Allan Russell recently spoke to Alaina MacGregor, CEO of British Blind Sport, and David Clarke, Chief Operating Officer for RNIB, to learn more about the legacy of the Games and next year's IBSA World Championships, which will also be held in Birmingham. Listen at: https://audioboom.com/posts/8120486-uk-sight-loss-charities-spotlight-on-commonwealth-games-2022
Note: Featured athletes are those who were confirmed at the time of writing. More announcements from Home Nations are possible leading up to the Games!