Commonwealth Games: sport-by-sport guide on the Gold Coast | Martha Kelner

An Ashes rematch in the pool, boxing twins and an 11-year-old table tennis prodigy – the home nations have it all in their quest for Games glory in Australia

Cycling

Home nations Both the track and road teams are low on established names but rich in young talent. English riders took six gold medals at the 2014 Games, including victory in the women’s road race through Lizzie Armitstead but the Yorkshirewoman has not travelled, nor has new mum Laura Kenny. England’s men’s track team is headed by Olympic champion Philip Hindes, while Team Scotland are led by Katie Archibald, whose brother John has also been selected.

Katie Archibald, centre, will be hoping her winning streak continues after triumphing in the Women’s Points Race Final at the 2018 National Track Championships in January.
Katie Archibald, centre, will be hoping her winning streak continues after triumphing in the Women’s Points Race Final at the 2018 National Track Championships in January. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

International Australian cyclists have been keeping their powder dry to race on home soil, looking to exceed the seven golds, out of a possible 13, they won on the track in Glasgow.

Athletics

Home nations Katarina Johnson-Thompson arrives fresh from becoming world indoor pentathlon champion and is favourite to win heptathlon gold, with Olympic champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium ineligible. Johnson-Thompson’s boyfriend Andrew Pozzi was also crowned world indoor champion in the 60m hurdles and is among the favourites to win over the 110m hurdles. Dina Asher‑Smith, Adam Gemili and Zharnel Hughes take on the might of Jamaica’s sprinters and all look in good early season form.

International Sally Pearson is likely to get the biggest cheer of the week at the athletics venue, just 10 minutes drive from her house but is struggling to overcome an achilles injury. South Africa’s Caster Semenya is making her Games debut but is expected to do the 800m and 1500m double in Australia. She missed 2010 because of legal wranglings over her eligibility to compete.

Swimming

Home nations Adam Peaty is arguably England’s strongest gold medal hope in any sport, the biggest unknown being how quick he will go in the 100m breaststroke and whether he will attempt to break his world record.

International England versus Australia in the pool is being billed as an Ashes rematch. The home team have the advantage of being familiar with the outdoor conditions of the Optic Aquatics Centre. Cate Campbell, who suffered a meltdown at the Rio Olympics and is seeking to put things right, is leading the female challenge. South Africa’s Chad Le Clos won six medals at the Games four years ago and will seek to defend his 100m and 200m butterfly titles.

Boxing

Home nations Twins Pat and Luke McCormack are part of the 12-strong England team and both have strong medal claims. England won five of 13 medals on offer in Glasgow and super heavyweight Frazer Clarke claims the team were inspired by the recent title fight victory of his occasional hitting partner Anthony Joshua.

Pat McCormack
England’s Pat McCormack trains on the Gold Coast. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

International Australia’s Taylah Robertson secured the first medal of the Games before they even began. She is guaranteed at least a bronze in the women’s 51-kg division after receiving a bye to the semis. Only seven boxers are competing in the category and both losing semi-finalists receive bronzes. But she is expected to fight for gold.

Squash

Home nations Despite years of campaigning, squash is yet to convince it is deserving of a spot in the Olympics, meaning these Games remain a key competition. England’s Nick Matthews is bidding for a third straight Commonwealth title but may have to overcome his compatriot and another former world No 1, James Willstrop. England’s Laura Massaro is also top seed.

International Eight-times world champion and two-times Commonwealth champion Nicol David of Malaysia will be aiming to upset Massaro.

Nicol David of Malaysia will be looking to for her third consecutive Commonwealth gold medal.
Nicol David of Malaysia will be going all out for her third consecutive Commonwealth gold medal. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images for GOLDOC

Gymnastics

Home nations Max Whitlock will be disappointed if he does not manage to retain his beam, pommel and floor titles. England’s women have been blighted by injury withdrawals with Claudia Fragapane, Ellie Downie and Amy Tinkler all absent, meaning 15-year-old Taeja James, Team England’s youngest member, received a late call.

International There is very little strength in depth in Commonwealth gymnastics beyond the home nations. Only one male, non-British athlete from a Commonwealth nation – Canada’s Zachary Clay – made a final at last year’s world championships in Montreal, where he finished 21st in the all-around competition. The women fare slightly better with Canada’s Ellie Black having won a world medal.

Diving

Home nations Olympic champions Chris Mears and Jack Laugher will consider anything less than gold a disappointment as will poster boy Tom Daley. Team Scotland’s Grace Reid made her Commonwealth debut as a 13-year-old in Delhi in 2010 but at 21 is being jokingly called Grandma Grace.

Olympic champions
The Olympic champions Jack Laugher and Chris Mears will consider anything other than gold for England a disappointment. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

International Australian diver Taneka Kovchenko was forced to retire days before the start of the Games for health reasons with a decision yet to be made on who will partner Melissa Wu in the 10m synchronised event.

Netball

Home nations Team England arrive after some of the best results in their history and will be aiming to upset the Antipodean stranglehold.

International Australia versus New Zealand is one of the most fierce rivalries in world sport with their matches at the Gold Coast Convention Centre sold out.

Weightlifting

Home nations Zoe Smith was forced to work in a cafe to fund training after a devastating shoulder injury and is on the comeback trail aiming to add to her three Commonwealth medals in the 58kg division.

International Much of the focus will be on New Zealand’s transgender Laurel Hubbard (formerly Gavin), whose presence in the 90kg-plus division has been controversial.

Table tennis

Home nations Anna Hursey is an 11-year-old prodigy competing for Wales, while veteran Paul Drinkhall leads the English challenge.

Eleven-year-old table tennis player Anna Hursey of Wales, centre, hits a return during training ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Eleven-year-old table tennis player Anna Hursey of Wales, centre, hits a return during training ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

International Singapore is the powerhouse of Commonwealth table tennis, having won 44 medals at the last four Games.

Basketball

Home nations Both England’s men’s and women’s teams have chances of winning medals.

International First included in the 2006 Melbourne Games, this time round Australia and New Zealand are likely to battle for gold with the home nation favourites.

Beach volleyball

Home nations England train in a chilly Dorset shed but 6ft 9in Chris Gregory and his partner Jake Sheaf are No 3 seeds for the inaugural Commonwealth tournament.

International Beach volleyball is a new addition in favour of judo which was dropped after the Glasgow Games. It will be held on Coolangatta beach. Australia’s women’s duo Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar hope a home crowd can spur them to victory.

Members of the Australian women’s beach volleyball team practice.
Members of the Australian women’s beach volleyball team practice. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Rugby sevens

Home nations England’s squad includes seven members of Team GB, who picked up silver medals at the Rio Olympics.

International Fiji’s win over Britain in the men’s sevens final at Rio 2016 means the Pacific Islanders come into the Games as favourites, but will face stiff competition from South Africa, England and New Zealand among others.

Shooting

Home nations Northern Ireland’s David Calvert competes in a record-extending 11th Games, seeking a fifth gold.

International Australia’s Laetisha Scanlan is reigning champion and begins the her defence of her title on her 28th birthday.

Lawn bowls

Home nations England, Wales and Northern Ireland historically dominate but could be thrown by heavy rain, which will slow down the greens.

International Carmelita Anderson, a 62-year-old from the Norfolk Islands nicknamed the Tiger Shark, will return for her fourth Games, 24 years after claiming the territory’s first and only medal with bronze in Victoria.

Contributor

Martha Kelner on the Gold Coast

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