Birmingham athlete Mark Lewis Francis on his pride in the 2022 Commonwealth Games

BirminghamWorld Video Journalist Richard Gullick speaks with Brummie athletics star Mark Lewis-Francis and Birmingham City Council Leader at Alexander Stadium

The Commonwealth Games have finally started here in Birmingham and the West Midlands. I’m here at Alexander Stadium, one of the main venues for the Games, to find out how things are going so far, and what else is in store over the next couple of weeks.

I’m speaking with Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward on how he feels it’s all going, as well as catching up with Birmingham Olympic Gold Medal winner Mark Lewis Francis. Hear all their comments and see my full report in the video at the top of our story and read their comments below.

Cllr. Ian Ward talks about the success of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Cllr. Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council says: “Well, these games have been a long time in the making here in Birmingham. It’s wonderful to see the event taking place. I’ve seen the Commonwealth Games in other cities around the Commonwealth, and now it’s finally here in Birmingham.

“So I’m delighted with the games that we have delivered. I think the people of Birmingham have embraced this event. Diverse communities are helping to reinterpret the Commonwealth Games into a celebration of Commonwealth countries and Commonwealth peoples.

“This could not have gone better, from my perspective. The city has exceeded my expectations. And it’s wonderful to see people of Birmingham walking around the city centre with a spring in their step and talking with pride about the city of Birmingham - their home city.”

Mark Lewis-Francis talks about the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham

Mark Lewis-Francis - Brummie track and field athlete who specialised in sprinting and won gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics - said: “Birmingham has done everybody that is a Brummie very proud, you know. I turned up to Birmingham this morning, and I was extremely excited to be a part of the Commonwealth Games. I looked up into the stands and every seat was absolutely full.

“And also, yeah, great times, great times. You know, I think the committee’s done a really good job with the organisation, you know, bringing people in and, you know, just putting on a great show.”

Birmingham could be said to be going through a renaissance, with sweeping cultural shifts, new infrastructure and investment, as well as a renewed appreciation of heritage.

The Commonwealth Games has offered the backdrop for these changes, offering the city a global stage, forging a new sense of pride for Brummies. And the hope is that the projected success of this international event will leave a lasting legacy on the region.

Alexander Stadium, Birmingham

Mark Lewis-Francis added: “I think the energy that I’ve witnessed within the city is absolutely amazing. Birmingham city centre is absolutely buzzing at the moment. You know, people from all around are coming into the city and experiencing Birmingham and getting a little taste of what I’ve had all my life so yeah, it’s a very proud moment for me.

“For the English athletes that are competing - all the best you know, but for the home nations that are competing again, all the best and just enjoy. Take a moment out, embrace, you know, appreciate the moments and just do your best.”

Cllr. Ian Ward says: “I say to the people of Birmingham I think you’ve done a fantastic job and if you haven’t yet been a part of this, you haven’t sampled the atmosphere in the city centre, come into the city centre there’s still time for you to be part of this.

“The fan zones offering free entertainment in both in Victoria Square and out of Smithfield have been so busy. Come and be part of a global event something you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren - you were there when the Commonwealth Games came to Birmingham.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.