Commonwealth Games 2022: 12 rising stars to watch

Birmingham 2022 will provide a platform for new and emerging stars in the world of sport to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Usain Bolt, Valerie Adams and Ian Thorpe who are past Games masters – but who will step up?

By Jo Gunston

The Commonwealth Games has provided quite the platform for sporting excellence over the years.

A 16-year-old Cathy Freeman, who would later win Olympic gold in the 400m at her homes Games at Sydney 2000, became the first female Aboriginal ever to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal, achieving the feat at Auckland 1990 in the 4x100m.

More Aussie success as Dawn Fraser and Ian Thorpe both won four Commonwealth Games gold medals at Perth 1962 and Kuala Lumpur 1998, respectively.

Two years after winning women's boxing's inaugural gold medal at London 2012, England's Nicola Adams claimed the Commonwealth title at another debut for the discipline at a major tournament.

Sprint king Usain Bolt attended the Glasgow 2014 Games in an effort to test out his hamstring, which had been operated on two months previously. The Jamaican said that he was attending the Games for the fans and to show his progress since the injury. Seems his recovery was going well; he won gold with his team-mates in the 4x100m relay.

So Olympics.com showcases some of those athletes who may be headline names in the future, and who you can watch now at the early stages of their burgeoning careers at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Jeremy Lalrinnunga

Age: 19
Country: India
Sport: Weightlifting

The teenager won India’s first gold medal at a Summer Youth Olympic Games, when he claimed gold in the boys’ 62kg weightlifting with a lift of 274kg (124kg in snatch and 150kg in clean and jerk) in Buenos Aires in 2018.

In December, the now 19-year-old was voted the ‘Most Promising Athlete of the Year’ by the GoSports Foundation, a not-for-profit venture working towards the development of some of India's most talented junior, emerging and elite athletes.

Christine Mboma

19
Namibia
Athletics

At the age of 18, Christine Mboma won a silver medal in the 200m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first ever Namibian woman to win an Olympic medal. She also broke the world under-20 and African senior record, while she was at it.

Mboma, who was voted the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year for 2021 – the first woman to win the accolade – missed the recent World Championships due to a thigh muscle tear picked up in May but hopes to be fit for the Commonwealth Games.

Nikhat Zareen

26
India
Boxing

In May, Nikhat Zareen beat Thailand's Jitpong Jutamas in the fly-weight final of the Women’s World Championship. Zareen’s achievement made her the fifth Indian women’s boxer to become boxing world champion. With Mary Kom's career winding down, expect Nikhat Zareen to step up big time.

Outside the ring, Zareen works as a staff officer at the Bank of India in Hyderabad.

Loh Kean Yew

26
Singapore
Badminton

The reigning men's singles world champion, Loh Kean Yew became the first Singaporean to achieve this feat.

Malaysia-born Loh moved to Singapore at the age of 13 to attend the Singapore Sports School on a four-year scholarship.

Twelve years later, at Toyko 2020, Loh was the Singapore flag bearer alongside table tennis star, Yu Mengyu.

Flag bearers Mengyu Yu and Kean Yew Loh of Team Singapore lead their team during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Nur Dhabitah

23
Malaysia
Diving

Nur Dhabitah claimed the very first gold medal of the South East Asian Games 2021 (in 2022) in Hanoi, Vietnam in May.

The Malaysian diver won gold in the women's 1m springboard and the 23-year-old also took the 10m platform synchro title alongside two-time Olympic medallist Pandelela Rinong.

Also interested in parkour and trampolining, Dhabitah is a three-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist with two coming from the last edition at Gold Coast 2018.

Summer McIntosh

15
Canada
Swimming

The youngest member of Team Canada at Tokyo 2020 (in 2021), Summer McIntosh was just 14 when she was part of the 4x200m relay that came fourth in Japan.

At the World Championship in Budapest, Hungary, last month, McIntosh bagged gold in the 200m butterfly and 400m medley, and silver and bronze in 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, respectively.

Alana King

26
Australia
Cricket

Alana King only made her international debut earlier this year but the legspinner has already taken the most wickets for her country in the three formats combined. The women's side have won the Ashes (against England) and the ODI World Cup (beating England in the final).

A first-generation Aussie of Anglo-Indian descent, King was awarded her first Cricket Australia contract in April and will be looking to make her mark at the Commonwealth Games, especially if it means getting another one over on the hosts – England.

Ondine Achampong

18
England
Artistic gymnastics

Ondine Achampong is the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival champion on balance beam and silver medalist in the all-around. The teenager also claimed silver on the nervy apparatus at the 2020 Melbourne World Cup.

The 18-year-old split her famous club team-mates, the Gadirova twins, in the all-around competition at the British Championships in March, claiming silver to Jess's gold and Jen's bronze.

Achampong will join her Aylesbury Gymnastics Academy training partners, plus Commonwealth Games squad members Alice Kinsella and Georgia-Mae Fenton, in the European Championship squad next month, the event taking place in Munich, Germany from 11 August.

Lachlan McNeil

21
Canada
Wrestling

Lachlan McNeil was named Canada's most outstanding junior male wrestler for 2021, the same year he won gold at the Junior Pan Am Championships at 65kg.

In May, he became Canada's senior national champion in the weight class. What can the 21-year-old do at the Commonwealth Games?

Emmanuel Wanyonyi

17
Kenya
Athletics

Former herdsman, Emmanuel Wanyonyi, claimed gold in the 800m at the World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi last August and is brimming with confidence, especially with 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei as his coach.

“Running a time of 1:43.76 at high altitude and setting a championship record has just confirmed that indeed I am good in this race,” said Wanyonyi. “I will keep pushing to see how much I can lower my new personal best. Who knows, maybe I can one day bring down Rudisha's world record.”

Hayden Wilde

24
New Zealand
Triathlon

The bronze medallist at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Hayden Wilde hails from a mountain-bike background, with the Kiwi only taking up triathlon after watching it at Rio 2016.

A head-to-head with Team England's Alex Yee, who bagged silver in Japan, will no doubt result in an explosive race between the pair in Birmingham.

Sireli Maqala

22
Fiji
Rugby

Sireli Maqala was one of the Fijian rugby sevens squad members who won an emotional gold at Tokyo 2020, defending thieir title from Rio 2016.

The 27-12 win over World Cup champions New Zealand belied the effort it had taken to reach the pinnacle of their sport, with the team having not seen their family since Easter due to being in a COVID-19 bubble.

On receiving their medals, the team broke out into a stirring rendition of 'E Da Sa Qaqa' (we have overcome).

Team Fiji win gold at men's rugby sevens beating New Zealand at Tokyo 2020
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

How to watch the 12 rising stars at Commonwealth Games 2022

UK: BBC TV, Radio, iPlayer

Canada: CBC Sports, CBC Sports app

Australia: Channel 7, 7Plus

New Zealand: Sky, TVNZ

India: Sony LIV

Further streaming details to be released on the Commonwealth Games website.

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