Commonwealth Games 2022, Australia gold medal chances, athletes to watch, dates, opening ceremony, swim team, athletics
In just one week, the first events of the 2022 Commonwealth Games kick off in Birmingham and Australia are poised to win a big medal.
From a team stacked in the pool, led by Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus, to a handful of in-form stars on the track, like Eleanor Patterson and Peter Bol, Australia is in good shape heading into the UK.
Here we take a look at 10 Aussies (plus one) to watch in Birmingham.
Stream over 50 sports live and on demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Try free for 14 days >
Already one of Australia’s most decorated athletes of all time, the 28-year-old is set for another bag of medals at this year’s Commonwealth Games. She already has eight and four bronze, meaning she is just three golds away from breaking the record of 10 held by Ian Thorpe, Leisel Jones and Susie O’Neill. McKeon travels to Birmingham after a torrid Tokyo Olympics in which she won four gold and three bronze medals to become the most successful Australian Olympian of all time. She will face strong competition from her teammates. Mollie O’Callaghan had the fastest 100m freestyle time this year, while Shayna Jack’s 50m time was only beaten by world record holder Sarah Sjostrom.
Titmus’ rivalry with American Katie Ledecky was one of the storylines at last year’s Tokyo Games. But with Ledecky out, Titmus has the green light to dominate in the Birmingham pool. However, things will not be as simple as they seem. Titmus has become the hunted and will face a challenge in the form of teenage sensation Summer McIntosh. At just 15, McIntosh is shaping up to be a real prospect of becoming the greatest female swimmer of all time, given where she is at such a young age. For example, his 400m freestyle time is 10 seconds faster than Titmus at the same age. Nonetheless, Titmus’ times are still ahead of McIntosh, leaving the Aussie with a golden opportunity to earn some money. She already has three Commonwealth gold medals to her name, as well as her two Olympic gold medals, silver and bronze.
Surely an undisputed favorite to return to golf in the women’s high jump. The 26-year-old produced a moment of magic at the World Championships in Athletics this week when she beat Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh for the gold medal. Patterson is the first Australian to win high jump gold at the world championships. She did so with a personal best of 2.02 meters to knock down Mahuchikh, who had beaten her to gold at the indoor championships earlier in the year. Patterson chose time to reach the best form of his career with a second Commonwealth Games gold medal, to add to his 2014 award, firmly in his sights.
Patterson’s biggest competition in the women’s high jump may come from compatriot Nicola Olyslagers (née McDermott). Patterson heads to the Commonwealth Games in better shape, but the pair are otherwise hard to separate on paper. Olyslagers and Patterson now share personal bests and an Australian best of 2.02 metres. Olyslagers hit that mark first when she shocked the Tokyo Games last year with a new PB that earned her a silver medal, behind Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene. It was Australia’s first ever Olympic high jump medal since 1964. Patterson finished fifth with a jump of 1.96m – exactly the same position and height that Olyslagers achieved at the World Championships athletics this week. An Australian double is on the cards here, but it’s hard to predict in what order. Olyslagers is looking to do better than her bronze medal in 2018, which she won with a jump of 1.91m.
After impressing at the Tokyo Olympics, where he narrowly missed out on a medal, Bol looks set to take his career to the next level. The 28-year-old is enjoying a good year after clocking a new personal best and Australian best time of 1:44.00 at a Diamond League tie in Paris last month. Bol is now ranked third in the world in the 800m and will line up in the final of the World Championships on Sunday.
Australia’s fastest man sparked the nation’s dreams last year in Tokyo. Browning shocked the 100m heats by beating former world champion Yohan Blake and won his heat with a time of 10.01 seconds. It’s the second-fastest time ever by an Aussie – and it’s brought Browning one step closer to breaking that magic barrier. This is what drives him on a daily basis. More recently, Bowning finished fifth at the Resisprint International with a time of 10.08, but could only manage a 10.22 at the World Championships. He heads to Birmingham in search of those nice margins that could make him the second Australian to run under 10 seconds, joining Patrick Johnson, who ran 9.93 in 2003.
The 27-year-old passed out late in the 1,500m final at Worlds this week but still managed to clock a season best time of 3:33.24. It was good enough for ninth – but it could be good enough for much more at the Commonwealth Games with Team GB’s Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr the only rivals ahead of him. McSweyn ran an impressive 3:31.91 at the Olympics last year – where he finished seventh – although that would still struggle to match the blistering 3:29.23 Wightman clocked in Oregon. This pace, however, is not entirely foreign to McSweyn who clocked an Australian record 3:29.51 in Monaco last year. He is a genuine medal contender in the 1500m after bouncing back from the lingering effects of Covid.
TALIQUA CLANCY AND MARIAFE ARTACHO DEL SOLAR
This Australian dream team will be unstoppable if they can recreate the magic of last year’s Games. The duo came so close in Tokyo to becoming the first Australian duo to win Olympic gold since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst in 2000. In the end, they met an American juggernaut in the final and lost, but Clancy and Artacho del Solar have shown they will be a force to be reckoned with moving forward. They also won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and are now aiming to do better. They head to Birmingham after winning gold at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge tournament in Portugal.
The 26-year-old was a surprise addition to Australia’s XI during the Ashes in the summer due to a spinner injury crisis. Suddenly, it’s hard to imagine the team without their deadly broken legs. King has had a torrid start to his international career, particularly in the game’s shortest format, which will be played in Birmingham. In four T20Is, King took seven wickets at the ridiculous average of 6.42 and a strike rate of 7.8. And they also have solid recent form, taking 3-8 against Pakistan and 3-9 against Ireland last weekend. King was also dominant in the Women’s T20 Challenge in May, in which she won five wickets at 4:40 p.m. Expect King to continue weaving his web all the way to the Commonwealth Games.
The 28-year-old has had a tortured run lately which he will be keen to put behind him. Ewan crashed in the Tour de France last year with a broken collarbone before also crashing in the Giro d-Italia earlier this year. Meanwhile, this year’s Tour de France has been something of a punishment with Ewan struggling to add to his five stage wins. Nonetheless, the Commonwealth Games will suit the sprinters, and Ewan should lead Australia’s charge in the men’s road race. Given that it will take place on the penultimate day, Ewan will have plenty of time to rest after the Tour and prepare for his onslaught.