Commonwealth Games Federation [CGF] President, Dame Louise Martin, has hailed the outstanding start to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Dame Louise was speaking from the Alexander Stadium which has been transformed from the scene of an extraordinary Opening Ceremony last Thursday in time for the start of the athletics competition earlier today.
Birmingham 2022 will be the most well attended Commonwealth Games ever staged in the UK after it was announced that more than 1.3 million tickets have been sold for the 11 days of competition, while the streets of Birmingham have been packed with fans taking advantage of the various free events across the city.
The first four days of competition have also been filled with top class performances. Local boy Joe Fraser raised the roof of Arena Birmingham after winning pommel horse gold in the gymnastics. Meanwhile, the brand new Sandwell Aquatics Centre was the stage for the first world record of the Games, delivered by a stellar Australian women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team of Madison Wilson, Kiah Melverton, Mollie O’Callaghan and Ariarne Titmus. And on day two of competition, Victor Kiplangat won Uganda’s first ever Commonwealth Games marathon gold medal, cheered on by fans who packed the pavements of Birmingham.
Dame Louise was joined at the Alexander Stadium by a group of athletics legends, including former Team England Sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis and Tanzania’s Commonwealth Games 1500m record holder Filbert Bayi, along with several Commonwealth Games Federation and Birmingham 2022 leaders to reflect on the first few days of the Games and look ahead to what’s to come.
Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation said: “It’s been fantastic to see how Birmingham and the wider region have got behind the athletes over the first four days of competition.
“We’ve seen some superb performances from athletes representing all corners of the Commonwealth and there is plenty more to come over the course of the next week of competition.
“Birmingham has taken the Commonwealth Games to heart and provided the perfect platform for our athletes to showcase the very best of Commonwealth sport.”
Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022 said: “It’s incredible to see the hard work of all the athletes really pay off in the competitions and see citizens of Birmingham and beyond support and enjoy the Games. Host team, Team England have put on an incredible performance so far and will continue to do so.
“None of the Games would be possible without the hard work from all the workforce and volunteers, so I would like to thank them for their efforts. I’m truly looking forward to seeing even more records broken in the remainder of the Games.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “What an incredible start to the Commonwealth Games here in Birmingham. You can really feel the huge sense of pride and excitement as you walk around the city.
“We’ve already seen so much world class sport across our incredible sporting venues, with the West Midlands proving to be the perfect stage to host the Games. Here’s to witnessing another six days of top competition as Birmingham continues to shine on the global stage.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I always knew the people of Birmingham would embrace the Games, but the interest and enthusiasm is far exceeding even my most optimistic expectations. Now is the time for our new-look Alexander Stadium to enter the mix. As a council, we’re delighted to have overseen the transformation of this magnificent venue for the athletes of the Commonwealth to write their chapter in the history books. I cannot wait to see what unfolds in the coming days at what is by far and away the best athletics facility in the country.”
Commonwealth Games 1500m record holder Filbert Bayi said: “I am excited to be back at the Commonwealth Games and looking forward to seeing some amazing athletes over the coming days. As I have been reflecting on my own career in my new book Catch Me If You Can, the 1,500m at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in 1974 stands out as a truly special moment. I hope the athletes competing here in this wonderful stadium in Birmingham will create similar lifelong memories; that they will compete bravely and push each other to new heights.”