We Love Birmingham! Athletes’ thoughts on the city

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have brought out the very best of the West Midlands and attracted more than a million visitors, wowing locals and tourists alike at the biggest sports event to be held in the UK in a decade.

The city and the region has truly embraced Birmingham 2022, whether it’s more than 500,000 West Midlands residents buying tickets – helping to make this the best-attended Commonwealth Games ever in the UK – or the 14,000 volunteers all doing their part to welcome visitors to Birmingham.

With the eyes of the world on Birmingham during the Games, some of our homegrown athletes have commented on what it means for our city:

Denise Lewis OBE: Olympic heptathlon gold medallist and President of Commonwealth Games England (from West Bromwich):

“It’s incredible when you know that a Games is coming to your patch – the place where you grew up.

“The pride was bursting out of me – I felt like I was going to combust. The Games represent a journey – not just my personal journey but the city’s journey.”

Mark Lewis-Francis: Former England 4x100m sprint relay champion (from Birmingham):

“The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is going to deliver a lasting legacy for the region.

“I’m a proud Brummie, born and bred, and some of the changes that have been made already are going to create so many jobs, so much opportunity.

“I want the people of Birmingham to embrace it. We deserve this. It’s all about leaving a legacy for our future. Birmingham has got so much mad talent, and what these Games are going to do is open up a door for so many youngsters.”

Stacey Francis-Bayman: England Netball team, Goal Defence Goal Keeper, Wing Defence (from Bromsgrove):

“It is unreal to have a home Games once in a lifetime, and I’m so glad it’s happening in what is my final year (in netball). I feel incredibly lucky.

“To have the Games in the town where you is born is insane. I am such a proud Brummie and every time I step out on the court I’m making sure I take it all in.”

Lily Walker: England Hockey midfielder (from Cannock): 

“It’s [University of Birmingham Hocky pitch] one of the prettiest pitches in the world. I’m a bit biased, but having [university clock tower] Old Joe in the background, the great hall and everything, it’s really special.”

Delicious Orie: England super heavyweight boxer (from Birmingham):

“Fighting at home is extra special and I know how much it means to the locals.”