Athlete says Birmingham will put on a good show for Commonwealth Games

Olympic and Commonwealth sprint relay champion Mark Lewis-Francis says the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is going to deliver a lasting legacy for the region.

The Black Country-raised sprinter is the latest guest on the Birmingham 2022 podcast series 22 Voices, featuring sporting legends and cultural trailblazers in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. 

Speaking to presenter Vital Powers, Mark said the Games will have a huge impact on Birmingham and the West Midlands. He said:

“Birmingham is definitely going to put on a good show. We always deliver. I’m a proud Brummie, born and bred, and some of the changes that have been made already, are going to create so many jobs, so much opportunity.

“I want the people of Birmingham to embrace it. We deserve this. It’s all about leaving a legacy for our future. Birmingham has got so much mad talent, and what these Games are going to do is open up a door for so many youngsters.”

The sprinter, who won gold and silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, says athletics turned his life around after a difficult time at school, and he discovered the sport by chance after driving past the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr with his father. He added:

“I got expelled from high school, and spent six months at home. I remember driving past Alexander Stadium and asking him [his father] what that was. I’d never seen it before. So, we came back and I got introduced to my coach Steve Platt.

“My Mom was a strict Jamaican woman. Every black child that lived in Smethwick back then had rules and regulations you had to abide by. It made me the person I am today. My discipline really did start from home, watching my Mom work the amount of jobs she worked, and provide and put food on the table for us.

“That gave me my drive in sport to never give up and always try and aim high. My Mom came over here [from Jamaica] with nothing and she ended up getting an education and a good job. That was my first interpretation of what hard work is.”

In the podcast, the retired sprinter also reflects on his journey to an incredible Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, when he led the Great Britain 4x100m sprint relay team to victory, holding off the challenge of the American legend Maurice Green on the final leg.

He also speaks about the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the death of George Floyd, and his own experiences of racism in the West Midlands.

22 Voices is available to listen and subscribe from, and from all major podcast providers.


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