Team Wales ones to watch at Birmingham 2022: Commonwealth Games medal hopefuls

Here are some of Team Wales’ best athletes ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games is set to get underway with the highly anticipated opening ceremony on July 28.

This year’s Games is being held in Birmingham - ten years after England previously played host - and the UK teams will be hoping for a brilliant couple of months for their athletes.

Following Thursday’s ceremony, the first of the sporting events will take place the following day and is set to run through until Monday 8th August.

Each of the 72 teams have named the athletes that will represent them in Birmingham over the next few weeks, with Scotland revealing a 201-strong team across 16 sports.

After matching the Welsh record of 36 medals (10 gold, 12 silver, 14 bronze) at the 2018 Gold Coast edition, here are some of Team Wales’ biggest stars that will be battling to break the record this time round...

Matt Richards - swimming

Matt Richards is only 21 years old but burst onto the global scene when he won 4x200 Freestyle gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics alongside Calum Jarvis.

He swam the third leg in the race and became the first Welshman to win Olympic gold in the pool since 1912 at only 18 years old.

Since then he has claimed gold in the 2020 European Championships 4x100m mixed freestyle, as well as silver in both the 4x100m relay freestyle and 4x200m relay freestyle.

Anna Hursey - table tennis

Anna Hursey made history at the 2018 Commonwealth Games when she became the youngest ever athlete in the Games’ history at just 11 years old - a year after making her senior international debut.

In July 2021 the teenager earned her highest ranking - number 2 in the world and number 1 in Europe in the under 15 category.

She also became a bronze doubles medallist at the World Youth Championships the same year.

Aled Sion Davies - discus & shot put

Davies had his first try at discus and shot put in 2005 and won his first bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics, before claiming gold at the 2016 edition and also last year’s tournament.

He also became a triple world champion and is on an astonishing nine-year unbeaten major tournament run.

At 22 years old, Davies was made an MBE in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List.

Jake Heyward - athletics

Jake Heyward is a Cardiff-born runner who will be participating in the 1500m event in Birmingham.

The 23-year-old only turned professional two years ago but has progressed very quickly, smashing Neil Horsfield’s Welsh 1500m record from way back in 1990 before reaching the final of the Men’s 1500m at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Jeremiah Azu - athletics

Jeremiah Azu is a 100m sprinter from Cardiff who is preparing to make his Commonwealth Games debut this summer.

The 21-year-old has dominated many championships in the junior categories and became European U23 champion last year, before also coming first in the 100m at the British Athletics Championships in Manchester last month.

Azu will be eager to impress at the Games and is in very good form to do so.

Geraint Thomas - cycling

Geraint Thomas is a Cardiff-born cyclist, most recently known for winning the 2018 Tour De France - a race which saw him win two stages including on top of the Alpe d’Huez and became the first British rider ever to do so.

At 36, Thomas has won six world cups and two world championships, is also a former world champion and is a double Olympic champion on the track.

His Tour De France glory led to him winning the BBC Sports Personality of hte Year award four years ago.

The Welshman is currently participating in this year’s Tour De France which comes to a conclusion tomorrow and Thomas has all but confirmed a third place finish.

Natalie Powell - Judo

Natalie Powell’s success is very impressive due to her studying alongside her sporting career.

While spending her younger years studying biomedical science at Cardiff University she continued to compete in Judo and went onto become the first Welsh judo athlete to be named Commonwealth Games champion in 2014.

She also competed at both Rio 2016 and Tokyo 202, while also returning to universiy to get her masters in advanced sports coaching in 2018.

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