Creator of Peaky Blinders, 5,000 athletes and lawn bowls – all you need to know as Commonwealth Games hit Birmingham | The Sun

THE Commonwealth Games returns to England for the first time in 20 years today – and it promises to be a blockbuster festival of sport.

More than 5,000 athletes representing 72 nations will descend on Birmingham aiming to win 283 medal events across 19 sports in 11 jam-packed days.

That includes the famous lawn bowls, or summer curling for you Winter Olympic fans, and three new sports making their debut at the Games – women's T20 cricket, 3×3 basketball and 3×3 wheelchair basketball.

For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, there are more medal events for women (136) than for men (134) with 13 for mixed events.

Remember, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete separately here, so Team GB Olympic team-mates could be pitted against each other in the pursuit for gold medals.

And with the creator of Peaky Blinders playing a crucial role, excitement is reaching fever pitch as the action gets underway.


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The main venue of the 15 in use is the Alexander Stadium, which plays host to this evening's opening ceremony – and the closing one on August 8.

The last time England staged the Games was back in Manchester in 2002 with Melbourne, Delhi, Glasgow and the Gold Coast hosting the last four.

What can I expect from the opening ceremony?

Peaky Blinders mastermind Steven Knight is the brains behind the opening ceremony which will include a 1,000-strong choir and the final leg of the 72-nation Queen's Baton Relay.

Brummie band UB40 are providing the backing track for this year's Commonwealths alongside rappers Gilly G and Dapz On The Map.

There is no Queen Elizabeth II to open the Games this time around so we will have to settle for Prince Charles instead.

If you are not among the 30,000 inside the stadium, you can join the expected 1.5billion watching from home instead.

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Who are the main British stars to watch?

Five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny is arguable the biggest name in the entire Games, let alone for the England team.

She is joined by fellow cycling legends Mark Cavendish and Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, but they will be representing the Isle of Man and Wales respectively.

Adam Peaty, the 100m breaststroke king, is battling back from a broken foot but hopes to retain his title while diver Jack Laugher will also be at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre aiming to add to his five Commonwealth golds.

Max Whitlock is competing for England in the gymnastics while defending champ Katarina Johnson-Thompson is up in the heptathlon just weeks after the World Championships in Oregon.


Laura Muir and Jake Wightman will be going for gold in the middle distances for Scotland after their medals in America this month.

Sprint queen Dina Asher-Smith pulled out through a hamstring injury while there is also no Tom Daley or Jonny Brownlee.

And there is no Northern Irish sprinter Leon Reid who won bronze in the Gold Coast either after he was banned following a security risk assessment.

The 27-year-old was given a suspended sentence in February after being found guilty of allowing his flat to be used for the production of crack cocaine.

What about any Birmingham locals?

Myles Hesson has played professional club basketball in Germany, France and Japan but will be back in his hometown for the 3×3.

Amy Jones, meanwhile, will be part of the England T20 cricket team – she also turns out for the Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred so will have plenty of support from the fans.

The medals are also local – having been selected through a competition held by Birmingham’s School of Jewellery with the winning design featuring a map of the city's road and canal network.

They have then been minted by Toye, Kenning and Spencer, a family-owned business that has been based in Birmingham for more than 200 years.

Oh, and don't forget the official Birmingham 2022 mascot – Perry – named after Perry Barr where the Alexander Stadium is.

And the best international stars in action?

Olympic champions Andre de Grasse (Canada, 200m & 4x100m), Kirani James (Grenada, 400m) and Shaunae Miller-Uibo (The Bahamas, 400m) have all confirmed their spot at the Games.

However, there is still uncertainty over which Jamaican sprinters will compete so soon after the world champs.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah could be involved, which would be a major boost for the organisers, fans and viewers alike – just not for their rivals.

And Chad le Clos knows a top-three finish in the 50m butterfly will draw him level on a record-equalling 18 Commonwealth Games medals – although he has only just recovered from bronchitis which ruled him out of the world championships last month.

How can I watch the Commonwealth Games?

The Commonwealth Games will be broadcasted LIVE across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three from today, July 27, until August 8.

Viewers can also catch coverage on the BBC iPlayer app, BBC Sport website and Red Button.

Olympic gold medallists Michael Johnson and Jessica Ennis-Hill will be part of the panel as will Beth Tweddle.

What is the Commonwealth Games schedule?

  • Athletics and Para Athletics: Tuesday, August 2–Sunday, August 7
  • Badminton: Friday, July 29–Monday, August 8
  • Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball: Friday, July 29–Tuesday, August 2
  • Beach Volleyball: Saturday, July 30–Sunday, August 7
  • Boxing: Friday, July 29–Thursday, August 4, Saturday, August 6–Sunday, August 7
  • Cricket: Friday, July 29–Sunday, July 31, Tuesday, August 2–Thursday, August 4, Saturday, August 6–Sunday, August 7
  • Cycling–Mountain Bike: Wednesday, August 3
  • Cycling–Road Race: Sunday, August 7
  • Cycling–Time Trial: Thursday, August 4
  • Cycling–Track & Para Track: Friday, July 29–Monday, August 1
  • Diving: Thursday, August 4–Monday, August 8
  • Gymnastics–Artistic: Friday, July 29–Tuesday, August 2
  • Gymnastics–Rhythmic: Thursday, August 4–Saturday, August 6
  • Hockey: Friday, July 29–Monday, August 8
  • Judo: Monday, August 1–Wednesday, August 3
  • Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls: Friday, July 29–Saturday, August 6
  • Marathon: Saturday, July 30
  • Netball: Friday, July 29–Sunday, August 7
  • Para Powerlifting: Thursday, August 4
  • Rugby Sevens: Friday, July 29–Sunday, July 31
  • Squash: Friday, July 29–Monday, August 8
  • Swimming and Para Swimming: Friday, July 29–Wednesday, August 3
  • Table Tennis and Para Table Tennis: Friday, July 29–Monday, August 8
  • Triathlon and Para Triathlon: Friday, July 29, Sunday, July 31
  • Weightlifting: Saturday, July 30–Wednesday, August 3
  • Wrestling: Friday, August 5–Saturday, August 6 

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