An expectant nation witnessed an electric atmosphere and extraordinary sporting competition at the Games. Birmingham provided a fully integrated Para sport programme that reflected our diverse nation, with more medals available to women over men for the first time, another huge step forward.
We were delighted to welcome Team England to campus for their immersion camp and kitting out where nearly all of Team England’s 429 athletes plus staff, came through Loughborough as the final step before the Games in Birmingham. We congratulate their athletes, coaches, and support staff on amassing a record 176 medals with the previous record standing at 174 in Glasgow 2014.
Loughborough-associated athletes contributed with a record medal haul of their own – 47 in total – an outstanding achievement (which if we were a country would place us 6th in the overall medal table.) With so many highlights it’s difficult to shine a spotlight on a select few, but I was hugely impressed with alumnus James Wilby’s incredible gold in the 100m breaststroke, Olivia Broome’s silver in Para powerlifting, and England Women’s brilliant gold in the hockey.
During major events we, perhaps understandably, become medal focussed, however, it’s about more than just medal moments. Selection to represent Team England is a huge achievement in itself, then to go on to compete, create personal bests, and moments that inspire young and old alike are all very special. But sport can be tough and with the highs also come the lows.
Jessie Knight’s phenomenal finish in the Women’s 4x400m was ultimately in vain as the officials ruled a lane infringement. This opened the door for another alumna, as Beth Dobbin secured bronze as Scotland’s team benefited from a promotion. There was also drama at Lee Valley VeloPark too. Current student cyclist Joe Truman’s nasty fall resulted in his Games ending early without the chance to add to his silver medal. The Loughborough sporting community wishes Joe a speedy recovery.
Other athletes ripped up the form book and took opportunities on the Commonwealth stage – Olivia Breen’s brilliant gold in the T37/38 100 metres is a good example of this.
We will look back on Birmingham 22 as hugely successful. Over 120 Loughborough-linked athletes, coaches, and support staff representing 11 countries produced 47 medals, personal bests, magic moments and reasons to be proud.
I have had the privilege of sitting on the Team England Board and will take over as Chair in one month’s time, to take on the challenge of Victoria 2026. An Australian Games will present a fresh and very significant challenge logistically and in sport performance terms, but it will be one that everyone connected with the Pride will embrace. I know that Loughborough will play a very important role in preparing and delivering excellent athlete performances.
I would like to conclude by once again congratulating all the Loughborough athletes, coaches, and support staff on making history…….and we are all proud of where history begins.
John Steele OBE, Executive Director of Sport, Loughborough University.