ONEAustralia is a Commonwealth Games powerhouse. Since the first edition of the Games in 1930 – back when they were known as the British Empire Games – the Australian delegation has topped the medal count 13 times. Australia are next best behind England with 200 gold medals, a total of 932 golds, leading the Games’ all-time medals tally with 200 gold medals. Australia’s total is double that of third place Canada.
It all means that history favors the Australians when the latest edition, the 2022 Commonwealth Games, kicks off in Birmingham on Thursday. Recent form will also benefit Australian athletes – the nation’s best-ever Olympic medalist less than a year ago, in Tokyo. Here are 10 athletes, teams and events to watch as Australia go for gold in the coming weeks.
Ariarne Titmus (swimming)
When the 21-year-old Tasmanian dethroned American swimming star Katie Ledecky at the Olympics – not once but twice (in the 200m and 400m freestyle) – it marked a changing of the guard. Titmus proved that wrong a year ago when she broke the 400m world record, and after opting out of the world championships (where Ledecky regained her 400m crown hit) heads to Birmingham comfortably.
But even without Ledecky (the United States isn’t participating in the Games), Titmus won’t have it all on track. Canadian sensation Summer McIntosh wasn’t far behind the duo in Tokyo and at 15, she’s quickly making up for it. Titmus v McIntosh in Birmingham will be an interesting encounter ahead of a three-way duel with Ledecky at the 2024 Olympics.
Peter Bol (athletics)
The middle-distance runner has become an overnight sensation at the Tokyo Olympics, delighting a reclusive Australian with his 800m prowess and charismatic post-race interviews. A medal eluded Bol – he finished fourth in the final, going hard and leading until the last 100 meters – but the Sudanese-born Australian became an instant household name.
Bol showed his form at the recent world championships in the United States, reaching the final in the field, although he finished seventh. The competition will be a little less stiff in Birmingham; none of those who finish on the podium at the world championships do not compete in the Commonwealth Games.
Ellie Cole (swimming)
Australia’s most decorated Paralympian with 17 Paralympic medals to her name, Cole could comfortably hang up her boots after the Tokyo Games, where the 30-year-old collected two medals. But after saying goodbye to the Paralympics, Cole wanted to say goodbye to the Commonwealth Games too – so she trained in Birmingham and will officially retire after her only event at these Games, the women’s S9 100m free. to be
Despite six Paralympic gold medals and three world titles to her name, Commonwealth Games gold has always eluded Cole – one silver and three bronze medals are her collection. He won’t start as favourites, but if Cole can upset his rivals at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, it will be a swansong for the ages.
Nicola Olyslagers and Eleanor Patterson (athletics)
Australia is all but guaranteed to take gold in the women’s high jump due to unexpected misfortune. Nicola Olyslagers (née McDermott) won silver at the Tokyo Olympics, while her compatriot Eleanor Patterson took the world title just last week. With those two main rivals coming from non-Commonwealth countries, the women’s high jump in Birmingham will be an all-Australian battle for gold. The duo currently share the Australian record with 2.02m. There’s every chance a record will be broken at the Games – by one (or both) of Australia’s top running sensations.
Team pursuit team (cycling on the road)
A streak of history gives Australia a significant competitive advantage in the velodrome at the Commonwealth Games. While Great Britain’s constituent parts compete together at the Olympics – where they are fierce competition for the Australians – at the Games they compete individually: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The impact of this separation is felt most acutely in team pursuit, where each competition includes teams of four (and, usually, a team of six). For example, the gold medal won by the British women’s endurance team at the 2016 Olympics consisted of two English riders, a Scotsman and a female guardian.
This partly explains the Australian women’s dominance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where they qualified five seconds faster than anyone else on their way to gold. They arrive in Birmingham as favorites – having finished second in the UCI Track Nations Cup earlier in the year, behind Italy. While the Australian team remains in transition, after several post-Tokyo retirements, Georgia Baker returns to the team from her road racing duties and 23-year-old Maeve Plouffe continues to improve. Their male counterparts will also be aiming for gold – the defending Commonwealth Games champions will be hoping to forget their disappointing outing in Tokyo, marred by a bit of wrist misfortune.
For some sports, the Olympics represent the pinnacle. For others, a domestic or international event counts as the ultimate achievement—the Tour de France in cycling, say, or the NBA finals in basketball. For netball, without a place in the Olympics (although some are advocating for inclusion in the 2032 Games in Brisbane), the Commonwealth Games is the real test – especially as several non-Commonwealth nations compete at elite level. . In Birmingham, the Diamonds will be looking to avenge their loss to England in the gold medal match on home soil in 2018.
Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack (swimmer)
The Dolphins are likely to follow the women’s 100m freestyle in Birmingham. Emma McKeon is the reigning Olympic champion and will be fresh after opting out of the world titles in Budapest. Young gun Mollie O’Callaghan, who is just 18, made the most of McKeon’s absence to win the 100m at the world championships. Shayna Jack, back from a controversial doping ban (it was partially upheld on appeal), is eager to miss time; Jack looked good in Budapest, collecting two relay medals, before injuring his hand before the individual events. Unless Canada’s 2016 Olympic champion Penny Oleksiak can pull off an upset, the women’s 100m freestyle will be a battle between three Australians.
Table tennis team
The Australian table tennis team arrives in Birmingham with plenty of medal prospects, after impressive performances at both the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo last year. Jian Fang Lay secured a trophy in her sixth Olympics in the women’s competition. The Chinese-born star, who turns 50 next year, first competed at the Commonwealth Games two decades ago, winning two silver medals and a bronze in Manchester in 2002. She added three more medals at the Intermediate Games, but has yet to win a Commonwealth Games title. 2022 will be her year.
In Tokyo, Lina Lei and Qian Yang ended Australia’s Paralympic table tennis gold medal drought – which spanned nearly four decades – when they both won gold within an hour of each other. They will be favorites in their categories.
Women’s cricket team
Women’s cricket begins with the T20 tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Australia have dominated the discipline, winning five of the last six World Cups, and are heavy favorites to win an early Games berth. Alyssa Healy is in red hot form, hitting 170 to take Australia to the 50-over world cup earlier this year and spinner Alana King is making her headlines while green all-rounder Ellyse Perry continues to impress. History tells the story of Australians, with no unexpected downfalls.
Madison de Rozario (athletics)
Madison de Rozario was among the stars of Australia’s Paralympic campaign in Tokyo, with two golds and a bronze medal – including a stunning victory in the wheelchair marathon. De Rozario then continued that form to win the 2021 New York City Marathon, becoming the first Australian woman to win the event in any discipline. The 28-year-old won the T54 marathon and 1,500m at the last Commonwealth Games on home soil and will be confident of defending his crowns in Birmingham.