by Catriona McAllister, CEO, Jersey Sport
After the disruption of the last two years we are eagerly awaiting the return of the Commonwealth Games 2022 which take place in Birmingham from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August.
The Commonwealth Games are world leaders in equality and diversity and this year’s hosts, Birmingham 2022, express this perfectly: “This is a Games for everyone, a level playing field for men and women with a fully integrated para-sports programme, and a huge emphasis on the Commonwealth’s youth. There is no better stage to showcase the world’s most inclusive, fair and progressive multi-sport event.”
We are incredibly excited for our Jersey team who will be competing at this prestigious major event, rubbing shoulders with their idols as they give the greatest performance of their sporting career. Reaching this level of sporting ability takes an enormous amount of hard work, dedication and commitment over many years. It’s especially pleasing to see youth athletes being given the opportunity to compete at Birmingham as this will, no doubt, lead to further success in the future. We would like to honour all the athletes taking part as well as their coaches and the volunteers that make it all possible, and their family and friends who have supported them physically and financially in following their dreams.
Our Jersey Commonwealth Games team consists of 28 athletes competing across 8 sports. Our youngest athlete is 14 year-old table tennis player Hannah Silcock and we have several athletes attending their second Games, some on their third and three attending their fourth Games – which is an amazing long-term achievement and commitment to their sport. Swimming and cycling remain the largest part of our team with 7 athletes in each. It’s the first year we’ve entered a swimming relay team since 2006 and the first boxer since 1998. We also have one athlete based in Australia and one in New Zealand. It’s great to have such a diverse team in terms of athletic experience and we are looking forward to watching them all shine in Birmingham and act as role models for our younger generation.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be particularly special this time around given the problems caused by the Covid pandemic which left athletes without regular training facilities and no off-island travel. Competing abroad in competitions, tournaments and time trials is one of the main ways athletes make progress as well as offering opportunities to be selected for national and international competitions and events. This year’s squad have had to work even harder to achieve their prestigious places in the Commonwealth Games and we are looking forward to watching them all compete on the international stage.
In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, we were proud to receive the Queen’s Baton in Jersey on the 10 June and watch as the relay travelled the island, with the baton being cycled to St Martin, taken out in canoes at Greve de Lecq and rowed from the beach at the Gunsite to West Park. The role of the Queen’s Baton Relay is to celebrate bringing people together and represent the power of collaboration as it travels across all 72 nations and territories within the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Games Association Jersey are an incredible support to our island athletes and are: “committed to supporting the hopes and aspirations of Jersey’s athletes in fulfilling their potential on the world stage of international sport.”
As you tune in to the Commonwealth Games coverage next month, I’d like to invite you to make a note of your favourite and most exceptional performances so that you can nominate them in our annual RaceNation Sport and Move More Jersey Awards which take place at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel on Friday 4 November. Award nominations will open soon for all exceptional sporting performances between 1 August 2019 and 8 August 2022. We’ll be recognising these historic performances so that no local athlete misses out on being nominated, despite the absence of these awards for the past two years.
Good luck to everyone taking part!
This article was originally published in the Jersey Evening Post on 9 July 2022.