The 2022 Commonwealth Games are about to get underway in Birmingham, England, with local sporting fans having several athletes with a Penrith connection to cheer for.
Penrith netballer Paige Hadley will make her Commonwealth Games debut when she hits the court as a member of the Australian Diamonds netball team.
The 29-year-old, who vice-captains the NSW Swifts in the Super Netball competition, will play a pivotal role in her side’s quest for Commonwealth Gold.
The netball program begins on Friday, with Australia taking on Barbados in the opening game.
Also making her Commonwealth Games debut is 21-year-old Jamisontown resident Madison Ashby.
The Tokyo Olympian, who was born in Penrith and went to school in Emu Plains, will represent the Australian women’s Rugby 7s team when competition kicks off Friday against Scotland.
Australia are strong favourites to win a medal in Rugby 7s, with Ashby set to play a key role as playmaker and one of the team’s leaders.
Kingswood lawn bowler Carl Healey will contest the men’s triples and men’s fours events when he makes his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham this week.
The 35-year-old has represented NSW since 2012 and finally got the call-up to the Jackraoos national squad in January last year.
Healey, who has been training on specially prepared slow greens at Penrith Bowling Club to mirror the UK conditions, started playing lawn bowls in 2000 after his parents and cousin all played the sport.
Aiming to win to her fifth Commonwealth Games medal is champion Penrith-born diver Melissa Wu.
The 30-year-old, who won Bronze in Tokyo last year, will contest the women’s 10m Synchronised Platform and Mixed 10m Synchronised Platform events, when the diving program begins next week.
Wu is one of the most experienced athletes on the Australian team, competing at her fifth Games.
On the track, 22-year-old Joshua Azzopardi will be making his Commonwealth Games debut as part of the men’s 4x100m relay squad.
The Penrith-born sprinter claimed a PB during the Oceania Athletics Championships in June, taking home a Bronze medal for his 10.27 100m effort.
The athletics program will get underway next week at Alexander Stadium.
Finally, four Penrith-born swimmers will be chasing medals in the pool at Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
23-year-old Matthew Wilson will vie for his third Commonwealth Games medal in the men’s 200m breaststroke, while 28-year-old Madison Wilson will contest her second Commonwealth Games in the women’s backstroke.
Vision impaired athlete Oscar Stubbs will make his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham when he contests the men’s 50m freestyle S13 event, while fellow 21-year-old Ella Jones, who has cerebral palsy, will compete in the 100m backstroke S8 and 100m breaststroke SB6 events.
Overall, the Australian team will consist of 435 athletes with 231 female, 203 male and one non-binary.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be broadcast live on the Seven Network and 7plus from today.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.