Triple-Olympic gold medallist and Sportsmail columnist Max Whitlock picks his five to watch as the 2022 Commonwealth Games starts in Birmingham TODAY… including gymnast and training partner Georgia-Mae Fenton and two legends
- Max Whitlock talks about five athletes to watch at the Commonwealth Games
- The decorated gymnast misses out on Birmingham after his Olympic heroics
- Tom Dean, Jake Wightman and Laura Kenny are among those tipped for glory
- Whitlock also has high praise for gymnasts Georgia-Mae Fenton and Joe Fraser
Max Whitlock is Britain’s most decorated gymnast, and four of his gold medals have come at the Commonwealth Games.
With four gold medals earned across the last three contests, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to become a Commonwealth hero – but he misses out this time around due to a break after his work in Tokyo a year ago.
He’s selected five of the best British athletes, across multiple disciplines, to keep an eye on in Birmingham over the next two weeks – including someone he’s trained with, and someone who shares a similar story of representation at Olympic and Commonwealth Games level.
English gymnast Georgia-Mae Fenton is an athlete Max Whitlock wants you to watch out for
GEORGIA-MAE FENTON (England, gymnastics)
Georgia-Mae trains with me at South Essex and is one of the most stylish gymnasts you could ever see.
She did not make the cut for the GB team at last year’s Olympics but that sort of thing sometimes makes you stronger and she will be heading to Birmingham with something to prove.
This will be her second Commonwealths after Gold Coast 2018, where she won gold on the bars, and she will certainly be looking to replicate that here.
She also got a silver in the team event four years ago and England will again be one of the favourites to win that on Saturday.
TOM DEAN (England, swimming)
Everyone remembers Tom winning two golds at last summer’s Olympics.
It feels like he has burst on to the scene but in sport that never happens because it takes years to get to that point.
His success in Tokyo adds pressure and anticipation but, having got to know him pretty well over the last few months, I know he has the character to be able to deal with that.
What is exciting is that Tom is massively increasing his number of events at these Games. He will be swimming in three individual events (the 100 metres, 200m freestyle, and 200m medley) as well as three to five relays, so he could definitely come away with multiple medals.
Whitlock believes two time Olympic gold medallist Tom Dean could win multiple medals here
JOE FRASER (England, gymnastics)
This is Joe’s first Commonwealth Games and it is in his home town, where he will have an enormous following.
He showed he can compete under huge pressure when he became world champion on parallel bars in 2019 and it is not out of reach for him to win four or five medals here.
Joe will be aiming for the all-around title and if he hits his routines on the parallel bars and high bar, he will be up in the medals in those events, too.
Then there is the team event, which England will be favourites for, and he has also produced some big scores on the pommel horse in the past.
The home fans will be right behind Joe Fraser when he competes in Birmingham
LAURA KENNY (England, cycling)
LAURA and I have been on similar journeys — making our Olympic debuts in London, then going on to Rio and Tokyo.
What she has achieved in her career is unbelievable and she still has a lot left in the tank.
She has been through a tough time personally recently and could easily have sat these Games out. But it’s a massive credit to her that she has pushed herself to come back. It just shows how strong and resilient she is.
Laura has five Olympic gold medals but only one from the Commonwealths. That was the points race in 2014, so she will be wanting that title back and maybe a couple of others. I will be really rooting for her.
Laura Kenny, seen here with her Dame Commander medal, has achieved it all
JAKE WIGHTMAN (Scotland, athletics)
Jake has just become the first British runner since Steve Cram in 1983 to win the 1500m world title.
I know from my own experience in gymnastics that, when you make history like that, it can do wonders for your sport — so hopefully British athletics can really thrive off the back of his success.
When you get a big win like Jake did, your form can go either way — but I am confident he will go from strength to strength.
He got a bronze in the 1500m at the Gold Coast four years ago but, after what happened in Eugene, he will be expected to win gold this time. Watch out for his Scotland team-mate Josh Kerr, who will also be right up there.
Jake Wightman, centre, could follow up his 1500m world title with Commonwealth success
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