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Out for glory - Midlands athletes at Birmingham ‘22

Athletes from the Black Country, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire are preparing to compete at the Commonwealth Games.

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Here, we take an in-depth look at who is going for glory across the different events.


Wolverhampton’s Matthew Hudson-Smith will fancy his chances of going all the way on familiar ground.

The former Birchfield Harrier grew up running at the Alexander Stadium and is keen to make the most of a proper home Games.

The 400m ace won gold at the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow before seeing his Gold Coast attempt curtailed by injury.

Hudson-Smith has returned to form this year and set a new British record earlier this summer.

Staffordshire triple-jumper Ben Williams is getting his first taste of the Commonwealths.

The 30-year-old, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, missed the Gold Coast because of a knee injury.

Welshpool’s Adele Nicoll will represent Team Wales in the shot put. She goes into the Games having won at the British Athletics Championships last month.


Telford’s Jess Pugh is part of a 10-player Team England squad for the Games.

The mixed doubles player, who is from Shawbirch but now based at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes, is one of five female players.

It will be her second Commonwealth event, having featured on the Gold Coast in 2018, where she claimed mixed team bronze.


Bilston super heavyweight ace Delicious Orie is eager to make his mark.

The former Sandwell Academy pupil was inspired by Anthony Joshua to take up boxing and wants to follow in his footsteps.

He heads to the games having come away with a bronze medal from the European Championships earlier this year.

Also part of the Team England set-up is Walsall’s Niall Farrell.

The 24-year-old featherweight trains out of Kingstanding Second City Boxing Club.


Breakout England star Issy Wong is heading to the Commonwealth Games and will be relishing the chance to impress in her home town.

The Shrewsbury School graduate impressed on her national debut last month and will be involved as T20 makes its Commonwealth Games debut. England’s first game is against Sri Lanka on Saturday evening at Edgbaston.


Pursuit rider Dan Bigham heads up a quartet of Midlands cyclists aiming for success on two wheels at Birmingham 2022.

The 30-year-old, from Stone, is heading to his second Commonwealth Games having competed in the kilometre time trial on the Gold Coast four years ago.

He is by some distance the most experienced of the Midlands riders in the England cycling team.

Aged just 18, Shrewsbury’s Grace Lister is among the youngest, actually receiving news of her call-up on her birthday.

A former member of Wolverhampton Wheelers, Lister’s introduction to the sport came at the age of six when she was taken to Aldersley Stadium by her father, Ian. Called up to the GB junior academy in 2020, she has already experienced success on the international stage as part of the quartet which won gold and set a new junior world record in the team pursuit at last year’s European Championships.

Stafford’s Hayden Norris is also aiming for success in the track events, which take place at London’s Lee Valley Velodrome.

The 19-year-old, a former member of Lichfield Cycling Club, is one of GB cycling’s emerging talents and is expected to compete in the kilometre pursuit.

Another ex-Lichfield racer getting her first taste of the Games is Josie Nelson.

The 20-year-old is the second member of her family to compete at the Commonwealths, after elder sister Emily competed on the track for Team England at the Gold Coast.

Nelson is heading to Birmingham 2022 in impressive form after last month being crowned British circuit race champion. Her focus is the road race, which takes place around Warwick on August 7.


Joe Fraser, who used to go to Sandwell Academy, is out to grab his first Commonwealth Games medal.

He comes in after competing at the Tokyo Olympics and boasts a World Championship gold in the parallel bars from 2019.

Fraser has also won bronze and silver medals at the Europeans.

Alice Kinsella, meanwhile, is looking to retain her gold medal from the Gold Coast on the balance beam.

The 21-year-old, who trains out of Park Wrekin Gymnastics Club in Telford, was also part of a historic team bronze in Tokyo.

Her proud father Mark, who used to play football for Villa, Albion and Walsall, and brother Liam, currently on the Saddlers’ books, will be watching on.


Lily Walker is competing on very familiar ground as part of the Team England women’s set-up.

Walker, from Cannock, plays her club hockey for and studies at the University of Birmingham – the venue for all the hockey at the Games.

She will hope to be on the podium as England look to build on their bronze from the Gold Coast.

In the men’s team, too, is Nick Bandurak.

He now plays his club hockey for Holcombe but was born in Wolverhampton and played for Cannock as a youngster.


The British Judo Centre of Excellence is at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall campus and several going to the Commonwealths have properly relocated to the area.

Gemma Howell, from Stafford and living in Telford, will fancy her chances after claiming European gold – her first major honour – earlier this year. Jemima Yeats-Brown, now living in Walsall, won bronze at the 2014 Commonwealths.

Acelya Toprak and Sam Hall, who are a couple and live in Wolverhampton, are both representing Team England. Daniel Powell and Emma Reid are among the others who are pushing for success at the Coventry Arena. Natalie Powell, from Powys, won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and will hope to add another medal to her extensive cabinet as she represents Team Wales. Shrewsbury-born Sarah Adlington also won gold in Glasgow in 2014 and wants to repeat that feat for Team Scotland.


Wolverhampton’s Laura Malcolm will be aiming to help Team England defend their gold medal from the Gold Coast. Malcolm was set to be joined by Cannock’s Beth Cobden, who has since had to pull out with a calf issue.


Adam Peaty has been in a race against time to make it to Birmingham and is now ready to build on his six Commonwealth medals.

The three-time Olympic champion, from Uttoxeter will be looking to enjoy a similar performance to that on the Gold Coast when he won gold in the 100m breaststroke and took silvers in both the 4x100m medley and 50m breaststroke.

Fellow Staffordshire swimmer Greg Butler, from Clayton, is heading to his first Commonwealth Games. Former Ellesmere College pupil Freya Anderson goes to Birmingham after winning two bronze medals in the Gold Coast.

Dan Jones, who grew up in Welshpool and swam for the Oswestry Otters, is with Team Wales.

Table Tennis

Black Country youngster Charlotte Bardsley is ready for her first Commonwealths. The 20-year-old, from Stourbridge, is the under-21 national champion.


Cyrille Tchatchet is now a Team England competitor having previously represented Cameroon at the 2014 Games. After that event in Glasgow, he opted to stay in Britain and seek asylum. He now works as a mental health nurse near his Walsall home.

Jaswant Shergill, who works as an English teacher in Walsall, is also part of Team England’s weightlifting set-up along with Emily Sweeney, from Ellesmere.

Wheelchair Basketball 3X3

Lee Manning calls Wolverhampton home having met his wife, Sally, in the city and is the senior member of the wheelchair basketball squad.

The 3x3 format is new to the Commonwealths – and the sporting world in general – with Manning & Co heading into it as relative novices.


Mandhir Kooner is out to do Wolverhampton proud and appears to be in with a realistic chance of a Commonwealth medal. He won gold at both the 2021 UK and 2022 English Championships.