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Commonwealth Games 2022, history and highlights and the ones to watch

The final countdown is almost over until this year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, when athletes will go for gold across a range of sports and para-sports. Here's what you need to know about the Games – from the highlights and history to the sporting heroes taking part.

What are the Commonwealth Games?

The Commonwealth Games is a multi-sport event for competitors from 72 Commonwealth nations and territories. This year's Games will showcase 11 days of action with 286 sessions of sport at venues across the West Midlands, and 1875 medals to take home

How it all began

The Commonwealth Games, once known as the British Empire Games, were first held in Canada in 1930. The event, often referred to as the Friendly Games, takes place every four years (except during the Second World War). They were previously named the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the British Commonwealth Games. As with the Olympics, there is an opening ceremony with performances; however, the Queen's baton is brought into the stadium, not the torch.

When and where?

The 22nd Commonwealth Games open on Thursday, 28 July and run until Monday, 8 August. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Birmingham's 30,000 increased capacity Alexander Stadium. England has hosted the Commonwealth Games twice – Manchester in 2002 and London in 1934. The Games have been held worldwide, including Australia's Gold Coast, India, and Canada.

What sports?

Nations will compete across 19 sports, from swimming, cycling, gymnastics and triathlon to cricket, netball, basketball, and beach volleyball. This year, more medals will be available for women than men, and it will include eight para-sports – making it the largest para-sport programme in Commonwealth Games history and the first time with no separate medals table. Women's T20 cricket is among the sports making a debut.

Who are the ones to watch from the home nations?

The 2022 Commonwealth Games will showcase the best of our sporting talent to the world.

  • Dame Laura Kenny, who is Britain's most successful female Olympic athlete, is among the 35-strong cycling team.
  • Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Adam Peaty will return from injury to enter four swimming events, including the men's 50m and 100m breaststroke.
  • England's Katerina Johnson-Thompson will hope to defend her title after winning the Commonwealth Games heptathlon in 2018.
  • Geraint Thomas, who missed out on the games in 2018, flies the flag for Wales taking to the saddle in the cycling, road race, and time trial.
  • Multiple medal winner, and star of the para line-up, England’s David Weir in the T54 and 1500m
  • Other names to look out for include Keely Hodgkinson (800m), Holly Bradshaw (pole vault), Hannah Cockcroft (T33/34/110m), Laura Muir (1500m) and Matthew Hudson-Smith (400m).

How to watch

If this has whet your appetite to spectate and enjoy the atmosphere, tickets are available from Birmingham2022.com. If you can't make it to Birmingham, you can enjoy the Games from the comfort of your living room as they will be broadcast live across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three. Viewers can also see coverage on BBC iPlayer.

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