Birmingham sparkles as Commonwealth Games open to strains of Duran Duran

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British pop giants Duran Duran headlined a glitzy Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham on Thursday as more than 5,000 athletes braced for battle.

Competitors from 72 nations and territories, many of which are former British colonies, will be vying for medals in 19 sports over a jam-packed 11 days in the English Midlands.

Prince Charles arrived with his wife Camilla in his personal Aston Martin during a segment highlighting Birmingham’s rich history of motor manufacturing.

Prince Charles declared the Games open as Duran Duran got the party started to a backdrop of fireworks across the city.

Away from the marquee athletics and swimming events, women’s Twenty20 cricket makes its debut at the 22nd Games and 3×3 basketball will feature for the first time.

Sporting powerhouse Australia have topped the medals table at every Games since 1990 except in 2014, when England finished top in Glasgow — the last time the event was held on British soil.

In the pool, Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown and teenage sensation Mollie O’Callaghan will lead the charge for a star-studded Australian team when competition starts on Friday.

McKeon, 28, who won seven medals — including four golds — at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo, boasts a phenomenal Commonwealth Games record, with eight gold and four bronze medals in two appearances.

Peaty, 27, is determined to break his own 100m world record of 56.88 seconds.

– Calendar clash –

The worlds were rescheduled from last year after the coronavirus pandemic forced a delay to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but that has created a headache for athletes in a crowded schedule.

Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won a fifth 100m world title in Oregon, will also be missing.

Australian high jumper Eleanor Patterson and javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber will arrive as newly minted world champions.

The relevance of the quadrennial Commonwealth Games  — first held in 1930 as the British Empire Games — has come under scrutiny, with persistent questions over Britain’s colonial legacy. 

But British sports minister Nigel Huddleston is adamant there is still a place for the event in the sporting landscape.

“It does have meaning,” he said. “It might not be what it was in the past but it’s evolving and changing, and that focus on values and what can unite us is key.”

Originally published as Birmingham sparkles as Commonwealth Games open to strains of Duran Duran


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