Commonwealth Games bid secures powerful ally

University of Birmingham Sports & Fitness

The University of Birmingham has added its support to the city’s bid to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The university is one of the UK’s leading sporting universities. Its reputation for providing a world-class training environment attracted Team Jamaica for its preparation camp ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games and the team is returning ahead of this summer’s IAAF World Championships in London.

If the bid for the Games was to be successful then the university’s new squash courts and hockey pitches would become competition venues.

The university’s recently opened £55m Sport & Fitness Club includes six glass back squash courts with 200 spectator seats, a 2,000m² indoor arena and a second sports hall. The two halls could be the setting for the main all-glass squash show court and a secondary show court.

In addition, the university’s two existing water-based synthetic pitches are currently undergoing a £4m refurbishment which will bring them up to International Hockey Federation (FIH) standard and Birmingham 2022 has the opportunity to shape their development to ensure they are Commonwealth Games compliant.

Temporary seating for 5,000 spectators will also be installed for the Games with the university’s famous red-brick buildings providing the backdrop.

Lily Owsley, Rio Olympic hockey gold medallist and University of Birmingham student, currently trains at the university.

She said: “Since becoming a student at Birmingham I’ve had the benefit of being able to study, train and play on this fantastic campus, with world class facilities and support. It’s already pretty amazing that 11 of the GB Women’s squad are University of Birmingham students or alumni.

“The opening of the new Sport and Fitness facilities, and the new pitches and new pavilion will make Birmingham an even more popular choice for ambitious hockey players, and sportsmen and women generally who want to combine study and sport on an incredible campus like this. To also be the location for the Commonwealth Games would be unbelievable.

“A home Commonwealth Games will certainly be an incentive for me to continue playing to make the England team for 2022, and play on home ground here on campus. I’m sure it will also inspire many other young players to live their dream of playing for England in a major Games on home turf.”

The university also has a number of other sports facilities which could be used for teams training ahead of the Games, including a 50m training pool, a new eight-lane 400m track, outdoor pitches, and the recently opened Chrissie’s Gym within the new Sport and Fitness building. The members’ gym is named after University of Birmingham alumna, British triathlete and four-time Ironman World Champion, Chrissie Wellington.

Zena Wooldridge, Director of Sport, University of Birmingham; President, European Squash Federation; and member of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Steering Group, said: “Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bid is so well timed for the university’s involvement, coinciding with (its) significant investment in sports facilities.

“Although our facilities weren’t designed primarily for major events, the combination of facilities were planned six years ago to fill strategic gaps in the city’s provision. So we are delighted those plans are able to contribute to a bid which can already deliver 95% of the Games’ facility needs, and provide exceptionally high quality venues.”