One of the biggest events to have come to my local area, potentially ever, has been the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games which I was lucky enough to go to.
The Commonwealth Games for those that don’t know is an 11 day sporting event that takes place amongst members of the Commonwealth and is similar in many ways to the Olympics. The Commonwealth is a voluntary organisation of 56 independent countries.
I had booked onto two events, the artistic and rhythmic gymnastics which took place at the Arena Birmingham.
Day 1: Artistic Gymanstics Men's Individual Qualification and Team Final
The first event I had booked onto was on the very first day of the games which was the Men’s artistic gymnastics qualification and team final.
For this event, the gymnasts compete on six different apparatus: the pommel horse, the rings, the vault, the parallel bars, the horizontal bar and a floor/tumbling routine but there was in a sense three different competitions going on at once as the eight best gymnasts on all six apparatus combined went through to the Men’s All Round Individual Final, also the eight best on each individual apparatus went through to the Individual Apparatus Finals. Meanwhile for some countries which had more three or more gymnasts competing were also doing so to win medals as a team so there was a lot going on!
Sadly as it was a morning session and there was a lot of gymnasts from around the Commonwealth competing I didn’t see anyone from Team England so as a result for the morning I swapped my allegiance to Team Wales as well as Daniel Lee from Jersey and Rhys McClenaghan from Northern Ireland for the day. McClenaghan won gold at the previous Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in 2018 for the pommel horse and he was incredible on this apparatus. However all of the gymnasts were so talented and put on amazing routines.
A couple of my videos are below.
Day 9: Rhytmic Gymnastics Individual Finals
On the ninth day of the games, I was again at Arena Birmingham, this time to see the Rhythmic Gymnastics individual finals.
Rhythmic Gymnastics is quite different from Artistic, for this event only women compete in the Commonwealth Games and the performances are all done to music (you will hear on my YouTube videos from the artistic gymnastics music playing but it is just background music, for Rhythmic the routines need to be performed to the music).
There are four pieces of apparatus we saw with a final for each one. A small ball, a hoop, clubs and ribbon. Again all the gymnasts were incredible with my favourite routine being Australia’s Alexandra Kiroi-Bogatyreva who did a fantastic clubs routine to a remix of Beyoncé hits which I had my shoulders shimmying along too and much deserved the gold medal.
The other finals were won by Wales’ Gemma Frizelle who won the hoop final and Malaysia’s Joe Ee Ng winning an amazing double in the ball and ribbon finals. As for Team England, the closest we got was a fourth place for Marfa Ekimova in the ball and hoop finals, though she did win the all-round Gold medal the day before.
It was also the day where I got to see the Commonwealth Bully, the very large bull which was rolled into Alexander Stadium for the Opening Ceremony and has become a bit of a local icon here.
I think one of the best things to have come out of the games is actually the buzz around my local area.
It has often been the case that us Brummie’s and Black Country folk tend to not shout about our area too often or really say it is a nice place to live, whether this is a confidence thing or just a general nature (I tend to think it is more of our nature). However, since the games there has been a greater sense of pride in the area and though the problems we have definitely haven’t been magically resolved it has been a really great few weeks.
Also a couple of other things that we can shout out about is that this games had more medals for women then men for the very first time and the largest Paralympic Commonwealth program ever.
It was also a very “green” games with tickets being able to be used on public transport which I took advantage off both times and as the ticket could be used all day did offer value for money and I think invited people to explore the region as well rather than jut the venues hopefully.
I also when I wasn’t attending enjoyed watching many of the events on TV and also recognising the places on screen – for example the Cycling Time Trial race went past Dudley College which was the sixth form I went to.
Also the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick which hosted the diving and swimming is to be turned into a leisure centre over the next 12 months which I look forward to using next year.