In just one week, the first events of the 2022 Commonwealth Games will begin in Birmingham with Australia poised to take home a big medal haul.
From a stacked team in the pool, led by Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus, to a handful of in-form stars on the track, such as Eleanor Patterson and Peter Bol, Australia is in good health heading to the UK.
Here, we take a look at the 10 (plus one) Aussies to look out for in Birmingham.
Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
Already one of the most decorated Australian athletes of all-time, the 28-year-old is out for another bag of medals at this year’s Commonwealth Games. She already has eight, and four bronze, meaning she needs just three more gold medals to break the record of 10, held by Ian Thorpe, Leisel Jones and Susie O’Neill. McKeon heads to Birmingham after a scorching Tokyo Olympics in which she claimed four gold and three bronze medals to become Australia’s most successful Olympian of all-time. She will face some strong competition from her teammates. Mollie O’Callaghan has the fastest 100m freestyle time this year, while Shayna Jack’s 50m time has only been beaten by world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom.
THE ARYANS TITMUS
Titmus’ rivalry with American Katie Ledecky was one of the storylines of last year’s Tokyo Games. But with Ledecky out of the picture, Titmus has a green light to dominate in the pool in Birmingham. However, things won’t be as straightforward as they seem. Titmus has become the hunted and will face a challenge in the form of teen sensation Summer McIntosh. At just 15 years old, McIntosh looms as a genuine prospect to become the greatest swimmer of all time, given where she’s at at such a young age. For example, her 400m freestyle time is 10 seconds faster than Titmus’ at the same age. Nevertheless, Titmus’ times are still ahead of McIntosh, leaving the Australian with a golden opportunity to cash-in. She already has three Commonwealth golds to her name, along with her two Olympic gold medals, silver and bronze.
Surely a red-hot favorite to take out golf in the women’s high jump again. The 26-year-old produced a moment of magic at the World Athletics Championships this week when she upset 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 jump of 2.02 meters to overthrow Mahuchikh, who had beaten her to gold at the indoor championships earlier in the year. Patterson has picked some time to reach the best form of her career with a second Commonwealth Games gold medal, to add to her prize from 2014, firmly within her sights.
Patterson’s biggest competition in the women’s high jump could come from her compatriot Nicola Olyslagers (nee McDermott). Patterson heads into the Commonwealth Games in better form, but the pair are otherwise hard to separate on paper. Olyslagers and Patterson now share personal bests, and an Australian record, of 2.02 metres. Olyslagers reached that mark first when she shocked the Tokyo Games last year with a new PB that was worth a silver medal, behind Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene. It was Australia’s first ever Olympics high jump medal since 1964. Patterson came fifth with a jump of 1.96m – the exact same position and height Olyslagers achieved at this week’s World Athletics Championships. An Aussie one-two is on the cards here, but it’s hard to predict in what order. Olyslagers is looking to go better than her bronze medal in 2018, which she won with a jump of 1.91m.
Having impressed at the Tokyo Olympics, where he narrowly missed out on a medal, Bol looks ready to take his career to the next step. The 28-year-old is enjoying a strong year having run a new personal best, and Australian record, time of 1:44.00 at a Diamond League meet in Paris last month. Bol is now ranked third in the world for the 800m, and will line up in the final at the World Championships on Sunday.
The fastest man in Australia had the nation daring to dream last year in Tokyo. Browning shocked the 100m heats when he beat 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 Australian – and it has pulled Browning so close to breaking that magical barrier. It’s what drives him every day. More recently, Bowning came 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 looking for those fine margins that could make him just the second Australian to ever run under 10 seconds, joining Patrick Johnson, who ran 9.93 in 2003.
The 27-year-old faded late in the 1500m final at the Worlds this week but still managed to deliver a season-best time of 3:33.24. That was good enough for ninth – but it could be good enough for far 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 last year’s Olympics – where he finished seventh – although that would still struggle to match the blistering 3:29.23 Wightman delivered in Oregon. That pace, however, is not totally unfamiliar to McSweyn who ran an Australian record time of 3:29.51 in Monaco last year. He’s a genuine medal contender in the 1500m having bounced back from 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 went so close in Tokyo to becoming the first Aussie pair to win Olympic gold since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst in 2000. In the end, they ran into 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 now have their sights set on going one better. They head to Birmingham fresh from 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 summer’s Ashes due to a spinner injury crisis. Suddenly, it’s hard to imagine the team without her lethal leg-breaks. King has enjoyed a scorching start to her international career, particularly in the game’s shortest format, which is what will be played in Birmingham. In four T20Is, King has taken seven wickets at the ridiculous average of 6.42, and strike rate of 7.8. And she has strong recent form, too, 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 claimed five wickets at 16.40. Expect King to continue spinning her web right into the Commonwealth Games.
The 28-year-old has had a tortured run of late that he will be eager to put behind him. Ewan crashed out of the Tour de France last year with a broken collar bone before he also crashed out of 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. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth Games will be suited to the sprinters, and Ewan is expected to lead the Australian charge in the men’s road race. Given it will be staged on the second-last day, Ewan will have plenty of time to rest after the Tour and prepare for his assault.