Birmingham 2022: Guardian writers’ Commonwealth Games awards

Best, worst and funniest things from our team after a memorable, sunshine-filled 12 days in Birmingham

Sean Ingle

Best moment For pure drama, Adam Peaty roaring and punching the water after his 50m gold medal – two days after his first 100m breaststroke defeat since 2014 – was hard to beat.

Toughest thing to watch Short answer: the esports demonstration. Longer one: seeing Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga motionless on the ground and being carted off in a wheelchair after his shock 400m title. But thankfully he recovered in time to collect his gold medal.

Star of the Games The extraordinary crowds. They may not have always known every cough and spit of what they were watching – England’s 1500m runner Matthew Stonier got a far louder reaction than Scotland’s world champion Jake Wightman – but they were loud and good-humoured.

Comedy moment Loved the fun of the men’s cycling time trial, where the Tour de France legend Geraint Thomas went racing against the 48-year-old parliamentary doorkeeper Chris Symonds and the 46-year-old Falkland Islander Jim Horton.

It’s a Brum Ting … how did the host city do? A+. Birmingham has been deprived of top-quality sport in recent decades, especially when compared to London and the north-west. But it carried off this overdue opportunity with aplomb, generosity and class.

Is there a future for the Commonwealth Games? Not in the long term. By the time of the opening ceremony in Victoria in 2026, Jamaica will have joined Barbados in removing the Queen as its head of state. Maybe when she finally hands over the crown it will be an appropriate moment to call time on the event?

Tumaini Carayol

Best moment Day one, session one. After the silence of the empty arenas in Tokyo, seeing the full crowds and the way that the athletes interacted with them was the best part.

Toughest thing to watch Alice Kinsella, the women’s gymnastics all‑around favourite, fell on her beam and floor routines, leaving the arena in tears. Brutal. She showed resilience by later winning the floor exercise.

Star of the Games In his first major international senior event, the 20‑year‑old Jake Jarman won four gold medals and ended the Games as England’s flagbearer. An enormous talent.

Comedy moment Despite being able to slap a volleyball serve at 80mph+, Javier Bello was not so great at the ceremonial pre‑match volleyball throw into the crowd, with the ball even once getting stuck on the roof of the officials’ tent.

The Bello twins.
The Bello twins. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PA

It’s a Brum Ting … how did the host city do? Aside from the news of homeless families being abruptly moved from hotels before the games began, well. Packed crowds, good vibes at all venues and a positive spotlight on Birmingham.

Is there a future for the Commonwealth Games? Considering how the athletes do buy into the event and the opportunities it presents for those who wouldn’t normally compete on such big stages, probably. But it needs to continue to become more sustainable and less expensive, even if it means spreading it across multiple countries.

Jessica Murray

Best moment I’ll never forget the roar of the crowd in the Alexander Stadium as Eilish McColgan pushed ahead on the home straight to win gold in the 10,000 metres.

Toughest thing to watch I was gutted for Joe Fraser when he fell from the horizontal bar in the men’s final, but he still finished his routine and was of course fantastic throughout the Games.

Star of the Games Can I say Ozzy Osbourne? Too many to choose from but Jake Jarman was a standout, winning four gold medals in gymnastics in his first major senior championships.

Comedy moment The volunteer sand-rakers at the beach volleyball who broke into dance between games were brilliant. As was Joe Lycett’s golden line at the opening ceremony about the government not always welcoming foreigners.

It’s a Brum Ting … how did the host city do? I may be biased as a Birmingham resident but I thought the city was absolutely spectacular and welcomed the world perfectly. The volunteers really made it, they were so joyful throughout, and the whole city was full of colour and life.

Is there a future for the Commonwealth Games? Surely the amount of tickets sold and the electric atmosphere at events shows there is still an appetite for it. But I think work still needs to be done to attract more high‑profile athletes and ensure all Commonwealth countries can benefit equally from the games.

Fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Games at the Alexander Stadium.
Fireworks during the opening ceremony of the Games at the Alexander Stadium. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Andy Bull

Best moment England women winning the hockey, Eilish McColgan’s sprint finish in the 10,000m, Rosefelo Siosi getting a standing ovation for finishing the men’s 5,000m on his own four minutes behind the winners.

Toughest thing to watch David Weir coming down with a puncture six miles from the finish when he was leading the para marathon, and Katherine Brunt’s tears after England lost the bronze medal match in the T20 cricket.

Star of the Games The giant mechanical bull, of course. It stole the opening ceremony and then ended up the biggest draw of the Games after the organisers moved it to Centenary Square.

Comedy moment The sand‑raking team at the beach volleyball stopping work so they could burst into an exuberant dance routine when the DJ played Queen’s I Want To Break Free. Genuinely funny.

It’s a Brum Ting … how did the host city do? Brilliantly. At best, it felt like a glimpse of Britain as it ought to be in the 21st century – open, busy, witty, creative, colourful and multicultural, alive to all sides of its history but not in thrall to any of it.

Is there a future for the Commonwealth Games? In the short term it will be smaller, and spread across multiple cities or even states. In the long term a lot will depend on whether India, home to 60% of its population and growing, wants to prop it up.


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