The Games in Birmingham open this week. How can sports lovers follow the action? Who makes up the Australian team? Your questions answered
The quadrennial multi-sport event officially begins in Birmingham with an opening ceremony at 4.45am (AEST) on Friday, 29 July. Competition begins a few hours later at 5.30pm (AEST) with lawn bowls and para lawn bowls. The closing ceremony is scheduled for 5.15am (AEST) on Tuesday, 9 August.
Competition will be spread across 15 venues in the West Midlands, with seven of those to be contested in Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city with a population of 1.15 million. It is the first time since Manchester 2002 that England is hosting a Commonwealth Games and the third overall counting London in 1934.
It depends on your level of commitment. Australians on the east coast can expect a nine-hour time difference, meaning the options (during waking hours) are to watch in the evenings or early in the mornings. The swimming heats generally fall in prime time, with finals kicking off in the wee hours of the following morning. Similarly, the morning athletics sessions start in prime time and the evening sessions early the next morning.
The Guardian will be running a liveblog every day for the duration of the Games, so you won’t miss out on a single medal won and can stay up to date with all the latest news, features and commentary from our team.
The Seven Network is the host broadcaster and will start its nightly coverage from 7pm AEST and continue until 05.30am AEST on Seven, 7Plus and across up to 30 dedicated channels.
Aquatics (diving and swimming), athletics, badminton, 3×3 basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, cricket (Twenty20), cycling (mountain biking, road and track), gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), field hockey, judo, lawn bowls, netball, powerlifting, rugby sevens, squash, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.
Birmingham will also feature the biggest para-sport program in history comprised of athletics, cycling, lawn bowls, para-triathlon, powerlifting, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball.
Women’s T20 cricket will be included for the first time and will be played at Edgbaston. Also debuting are 3×3 basketball, 3×3 wheelchair basketball and para table tennis.
In all there are 72 different countries and territories taking part, which makes these Games the biggest yet.
Australia is one of only six countries, alongside New Zealand, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales, to have sent athletes to every edition of the Games since its inception in 1930.
Some teams look a bit different to the Olympics and Paralympics. Team GB, for example, do not compete under one flag at the Commonwealth Games but split into seven constituent parts meaning England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey each compete separately.
In terms of population, the smallest is Niue, a South Pacific island nation with a population of 1,648. They are sending a team of 15 featuring 10 lawn bowlers, four boxers and one weightlifter.
The full list is as follows: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, England, Eswatini, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, India, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Scotland, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, The Gambia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Wales, Zambia.
History and current form indicate very well. In their 21 contested Games Australia have topped the medal table 13 times. The highest overall haul was 221 medals at Melbourne 2006 and the highest number of golds (87) came at the 1994 instalment in Victoria, Canada.
At the most recent Games, on the Gold Coast in 2018, Australia won 80 gold medals, 59 silver and 59 bronze (total 198) to finish top of the table ahead of second-placed England with 136 overall (45 gold, 45 silver, 46 bronze).
England may benefit from home advantage this time, but Australia will compete in every sport and expectations remain high. The absence of sporting powerhouses such as United States, China, ROC (Russia) and Japan also significantly increases Australia’s gold medal prospects. With a record total haul of 932 golds, the team are on the way to winning their 1,000th gold in Birmingham.
Australia are sending 435 athletes comprising 351 able-bodied athletes, 76 para-athletes and eight guides, making it the second largest contingent in history behind Gold Coast 2018. They will be led by chef de mission Petria Thomas.
The team, of which more than half will be making their debuts, spans an age range of almost 50 years. The youngest is 14-year-old diver Charli Petrov and the oldest 63-year-old lawn bowler Cheryl Lindfield – both debutants.
The team will also feature a record number of Indigenous athletes, namely Taliqua Clancy (beach volleyball), Indiana Cooper (athletics), Ashleigh Gardner (cricket), Maurice Longbottom (rugby sevens), Callum Peters (boxing), Ruby Storm (swimming), Brandon Wakeling (weightlifting), Mariah Williams (hockey), Ally Wilson (3×3 basketball) and Alex Winwood (boxing).
Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack, Ellie Cole (swimming), Peter Bol, Nicola Olyslagers and Eleanor Patterson and Madison de Rozario (athletics) are all set to shine, along with the track cycling squad, table tennis team, women’s cricket team and the netball team. Here is a full rundown of Australia’s best medal hopes.