SUSSEX athletes are to take part in what is billed as the biggest ever Commonwealth Games, which officially opens in Birmingham later today.
Joining the leading lights of England, Australia and Canada are smaller territories, such as Norfolk Island, being represented by 14 lawn bowlers.
The Games come almost ten years to the day since London welcomed the world for the London 2012 Olympics.
Among those from Sussex representing England and going for gold include University of Brighton student Ben Hickling.
Ben is aiming for Commonwealth success in England’s weightlifting team, competing in the men’s 55kg category, a class in which he is ranked UK number one.
Ben took up the sport by chance after he was asked to go along to a training session to keep a friend company.
He said: “I saw someone else weightlifting, asked them who their coach was and the rest is history – but I never dreamed I would be competing at the Commonwealth Games Weightlifting is a good fun way to keep fit, while helping to forget the stresses in life.”
Another University of Brighton student, Jess Gordon-Brown, will take part in weightlifting in the 59kg category, where she is ranked number one in the UK.
She said: “I’m really excited to be part of Team England. We have a really strong team this year – and it’s nice to be alongside fellow Brighton student Ben.”
Meanwhile, 26-year-old cricketer Freya Davies will be debuting at her first Commonwealth Games as part of the England cricket team, having represented the country at this year’s Women’s Cricket World Cup in February.
Brighton’s Tom Bowden will also be representing the nation and the county at the Games over the next few weeks as part of the rugby sevens squad.
Tom, who took up rugby at the age of six in nearby Lewes, made his England Sevens debut at a tournament in Queensland in 2014 and was among those in the reserve squad for last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Holly Heffron, 19, from Chichester will also be vying for a podium place in boxing, having been crowned England senior elite national champion at 54kg in April.
The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games begins at 8pm tonight at the Alexander Stadium and will be attended by the Prince of Wales.