Sport

Team England hail ‘exceptional’ Commonwealth Games display

England finished with a record 176 medals – 57 of them gold – at Birmingham 2022 but fell narrowly short of the goal of outperforming table-topping Australia at the home Commonwealth Games.

Driven by dominance across sports such as gymnastics and diving, England beat their previous total of 174 set at Glasgow 2014 and, although Australia finished ahead on the leaderboard with 178 medals, Team England’s chef de mission, Mark England, hailed the efforts of his team.

“This has been an absolutely exceptional Games for Team England and what’s been exceptional about it, I think, is the fact that it’s a very young team, an ambitious team,” said England. “We’ve got 17 year olds who are winning gold medals. It is by some margin the best home performance of any English team in a Commonwealth games.”

The success was mirrored by the other home nations. Northern Ireland also registered its best ever Games with 18 medals, its significant success driven by an incredible Sunday in the boxing as Northern Irish boxers dominated the medal leaderboard, taking five gold medals and seven overall. Meanwhile, Scotland produced its second best medal haul of all time, winning 51 medals, only three behind the record 54 medal haul at home in Glasgow. Wales finished Birmingham 2022 with 28 medals.

The success from British athletes in the field of play was complemented by the positive vibes and full crowds in Birmingham as the city staged a successful event despite continued discussion about the relevance of the Commonwealth Games today. “The people of Birmingham have showcased the best of the city, they’ve showcased the best of the support for the athletes, in a way that I think many people perhaps might not have imagined or maybe not previously seen,” said England.

According to the Birmingham 2022 CEO, Ian Reid, more than 1.5m tickets were sold for the event, with the final figures yet to be published. “We are very much in the region of this being the biggest and most successful Commonwealth Games,” he said. Reid additionally expressed his belief that Birmingham could use the Commonwealth Games as a pathway towards possibly bidding for a future Olympic Games: “The people of Birmingham, and the venues here, have shown that they could certainly be part of an Olympic bid”.

As the 2022 Commonwealth Games ends, some eyes will already shift to the Paris 2024 Olympics, now only two years away. England argued that the Commonwealth Games remain “hugely” relevant, providing athletes with the rare experience of a multi-sport Games, while performing against elite opposition. He believes that the next Olympics across the English channel will be like a home games, with many athletes that emerged in Birmingham continuing their journey to France.

“We’ve always looked at it as a home Games,” he said. “Paris is closer to London than Newcastle, as the crow flies. We’ve turned it into a kind of a home advantage and our plans are exceptional for that. And we’d expect to see a significant number of the athletes that we’ve seen in the last 10 days in GB.”

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