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Villages ready to welcome athletes of Commonwealth

Comfortable rooms and leafy surroundings await the competitors of the Commonwealth as the athletes villages get up and running.

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The gym area has a full range of equipment for athletes to train in, as well as a cool down area with ice-baths

More than 7,000 athletes and officials from 72 countries and territories will be making their home in one of three villages, based in Birmingham and Coventry and at the NEC in Solihull.

The accommodations at the village has been made ready to welcome more than 3,000 athletes

The village at Birmingham University, near Selly Oak, is one of the biggest, with around 3,000 athletes arriving over the next few days, joining team officials and chef de missions who arrived earlier in the week to prepare for their athletes arrival.

The village makes use of the existing student accommodation, with each country having a block to house their athletes and also decorate in team and national colours.

New Zealand are among the competing nations to have set up their home base for athletes and officials

New Zealand and Welsh officials were among those already in place in the blocks, with Welsh dragons and Maori symbols clear to see on each stairwell of their block.

Among the other facilities at the village were an area for the welcoming ceremonies and a large area near a big screen for those not competing to sit and watch the action from the Games.

The entertainment area will be a place to meet up and enjoy a range of activities and entertainment

There is also a fully-furnished gym with recovery area, an entertainment area which will host workshops and live entertainment throughout the next three weeks and several large dining areas, with places for traditional foods to be prepared.

The dining areas will be fully stocked and will cater to all tastes and diets

The three villages plan was put in place after disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic affected plans to build a single village in Perry Barr.

Ashwin Lokare has been working with the 72 Commonwealth Games Associations as head of Games family services to help prepare and plan the villages and the protocol of the Games.

He said the multi-village setting was an unusual one, but said he expected the villages to carry the Games atmosphere and provide a great experience for the athletes and officials.

The flags of each competing nation and territory have been unfurled and raised in the village

He said: "Two years ago when we were looking at this, we didn't have a village and we were working out a plan while we were all working at home and came up with the solution of multi-villages and putting athletes near to where they are competing so they can get there on time.

"We are looking forward to welcome the Games Associations here and I think the athletes being in the village just changes the atmosphere and makes it feel more real.

"People always use the phrase 'Friendly Games' when they talk about the Commonwealth Games and they couldn't be more right as it is a friendly atmosphere and a fun one for the athletes to be in."

The lake in the centre of the village will be a place to unwind before, during and after competing

Two of the officials already settled in and getting preparations done for their athletes across the three villages were Kenya Games CEO Humphrey Emonyi and Barbados chef de mission Cyril Burke.

Both men said there were challenges with multiple villages, but said they were excited to be there and ready to get started at the Games.

Each room has full branding on the bed sheets and equipment

Mr Burke said: "This will be my sixth Commonwealth Games and, certainly, there are challenges due to not having just one setting, but the amount of work that has gone into this facility and the other villages will make it a tremendous experience for us.

"We'd love to see our athletes win some medals, but we want them to enjoy the experience and enjoy themselves and be good ambassadors for the country."

Mr Emonyi said: "The three-way model is more work for us in terms of organisation and team management, but it ensures that athletes are closer to their venues and the model does work nicely for the athletes and the athlete experience.

"We've been getting our area ready, adding some presents and a bit of Kenyan spice to it and we are working to ensure we maintain a really close team within the village and the other villages as Kenyans are very spiritual and having meetings and interactions will help the bond tighter."

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