All three-armed services pulled out all the stops to help deliver a safe and secure Games while showing how sport is also at the heart of almost everything they do.
Backed by £778 million of public funding, including £594 million from central government, Birmingham 2022 is the most significant investment in a major sporting event since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
And the military played an integral part by helping to ensure a safe and secure event as well as fielding athletes, coaches, and officials from all three services.
More than 1,000 Armed Forces personnel took part in the Games, including hundreds of personnel that supported with the organisation of events and around 300 who took part in ceremonial duties. There were also five competing athletes and two coaches from the UK Armed Forces this year.
“I am immensely proud of all the Defence elements that have contributed to the success of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games." Brigadier Matt Pierson CBE RM
A 138-strong tri-service team of ceremonial flag-raisers comprising 67 Army personnel, 36 members of the Royal Air Force and 35 from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines raised flags for all the medal winners, after training for the prestigious honour at Nesscliffe training camp in the West Midlands.
At the end of a sporting extravaganza which took place across 11 days of action-packed sporting excellence from 28 July to 8 August, Brigadier Matt Pierson CBE RM, who headed up Operation Unity, the military’s support of the Games, said:
“I am immensely proud of all the Defence elements that have contributed to the success of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Whether behind the scenes or in full limelight, the men and women from each of the Services have made a material difference.
“Each team and individual, regulars and reservists alike, can be confident that their hard work and professionalism have helped make the Birmingham games the terrific success that we have seen. An integral part of society, the Armed Forces has again delivered, and to the highest standards. My thanks and best wishes to everyone who has taken part.”
“I’d also like to thank our key partner and stakeholder organisations, especially the West Midlands Police but also Birmingham City Council and Birmingham 2022. I’m proud that we have been able to assist in delivering such a fantastic event that has re-energised and breathed new life into the city.”
As Birmingham looks to reap the economic and social rewards of hosting the Games, some of our military athletes also reflected on their personal experiences and journeys through them.
Air Specialist Class One Luke Pollard, an RAF Supplier, and Gold medal winning guide in the paratriathlon said: “We wanted to give it everything, leave nothing in the tank and showcase what this sport is all about.
“The support I’ve been given over my whole career really has just been unbelievable and I’m really glad we were able to get the result to give back to showcase the sport”
Corporal Sarah Hawkes who just missed out on a Bronze medal in the +78kg category judo representing Northern Ireland, said: “These Games have been an amazing experience and an absolute privilege to represent my country, the RMP, AGC and British Army as a whole.
“I have learned a lot and look forward to working from this experience I will be competing in the Pan Americas in September.
“Even though it’s an individual sport I could not have made it here without the support and help I have received, so thank you to everyone including my family, Camberley judo club, the Army Sports Control Board, AGC, RMP and the British Army.”
And Sgt Martin Anthony, 49, from Ammanford, West-Wales, reflected on his role as an assistant coach to the Welsh National Boxing Team, saying: “It has been a privilege and an honour to represent my country at the CWG 22.
“To work with such professional, dedicated athletes and to play a part in Welsh Boxing‘s best medal tally since 1958 (6 Medals) will be an experience I will never forget”
In addition to the military personnel on ceremonial duties, a Venue Assistance Force (VAF) supported the security programme being led by West Midlands Police. The VAF was made up of both regular soldiers and reservists, including soldiers from 4 Regiment Army Air Corps and the Grenadier Guards.
The Games’ spectacular Closing Ceremony was a fitting tribute to the collaborative efforts of the wide range of organisations that made them happen, including Birmingham 2022, the Armed Forces, West Midlands Police, and Birmingham City Council.
Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022, said: “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has been a huge success. Organising a global multi-sport event such as this can only be done with great partnership working and so I would like to thank the armed forces for their fantastic support in helping us to deliver an incredible edition of the Games.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The last two weeks have promoted the very best of Birmingham on an international stage – and that was only possible because of the way everyone involved came together with a shared determination to stage the greatest Commonwealth Games ever.
Our Armed Forces played a key role in that partnership and on behalf of the city, I thank all the personnel that were involved when it was Birmingham’s time to shine.”