Moments of CWG 2022: Jeremy's tattoo, Bajrang being Bajrang, Mirabai, Javelin final

Fireworks during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony at Alexander Stadium Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Twelve days of breathless action, running around chasing incredible athletes creating enough stories for a lifetime and now suddenly the world has gone quiet.

This writer reflects on what was a pretty sensational Commonwealth Games in Birmingham:

Most awe-inspiring moment

Before I get to my winner, there are two stand outs that got really close to topping it all.

One, Australia eviscerating India in the men's hockey final. It was one of the scariest things I've seen live.

Two, Arshad Nadeem vs Anderson Peters on their fifth throw of the men's javelin. Peters had been relaxing all day, throwing well within himself when he pulled out all the stops on his penultimate attempt. Nadeem, having already bested his personal best by two metres, should have crumbled by all rights. Instead, he threw 90m for the first time in his career. Clutchness. Also, the sight of a javelin being hurled 90m in the air right in front of you is not something you'll forget soon.

My personal favourite, though, was Elaine Thompson-Herah.

When she stepped onto the field for the 100m semifinal, a hush fellow over the noisy, packed Alexander Stadium. You could sense the hairs on the back of 30,000 necks standing up. She walked out with all the swagger of being the fastest woman alive and she ran like this whole shebang was just too easy for her.

The most she seemed to break into was a mild jog, and yet she won that semi by .10 seconds, a massive lead. She won the final, too, of course, but the semi... phew. The GOAT jogging her way across 100m in 11.05 seconds was the most elite-sportsperson thing I have ever seen live on a sports field.


Favourite personality

It's a tie between Mirabai Chanu, Achanta Sharath Kamal and PR Sreejesh. Sharath for his easy personality and comfort in his own skin, Chanu for being the most incredible mix of power and cuteness and Sreejesh for being... Sreejesh.

There were small individual moments.

  • Sharath dragging a chair along to a mixed zone interview 'cos he was 'too old for this s**t' while he battled his way to four more CWG medals.

  • Hearing passengers on the train talk about Mirabai: "Did you see that tiny Indian girl? She started after everyone finished and made it look so easy!" She was a crowd favourite and made it a point to spend time with anyone who wanted a piece of her.

  • Watching Sreejesh, not twenty minutes after winning a tight semifinal, chatting away with a small kid - who was very seriously teaching him how to draw: "I'll take a picture of this and go learn how to draw, ok? Because I have my colouring set at home," Sreejesh smiled. "Ok, you better practice and learn quickly" came the reply. It was the most hilarious and wonderful interaction I've seen an elite athlete engage in.

Best tattoo

Jeremy Lalrinnunga, and it wasn't even close.

Best show of confidence

When Nikhat Zareen painted her nails in the tricolour, she skipped one finger (on each hand): that was reserved for gold. A gold she then proceeded to win with the calm ease of a world champion who knows she's the best in the business.

Biggest show of superiority

All the gold-medal winning wrestlers. Of the ones I saw, Bajrang Punia walking around the mat in his final, opponent's leg tucked away under his arm, almost asking him 'why even try?'... That was straight out of a Tollywood action-blockbuster.

Biggest regret

The thing about multi-sport events is that you often have to make a choice (of which sport to watch at a particular time) and stick with it. It meant I missed Avinash Sable break the Kenyan hegemony in the 3000m steeplechase and the magic of India finishing 1-2-4 in a global track and field event. *screams silently*

Thing I will miss most

The adrenaline rush of going and watching some of the best athletes in the world every day. And the mixed zones - where you saw them right after triumph or defeat: athletes in their purest form.

Oh, and also... "You alright, mate?" It didn't matter who they were -- volunteer, restaurant worker, policeman, shopkeeper, random human on the street -- you looked someone in the face in Birmingham and you were greeted with a smile and a greeting. It was nothing really, but in a strange place such polite friendliness goes a long way.

Thing I will not miss at all

Walking. Goodness me, the walking. If there was a forty minute journey between venues, thirty of those went in walking. My feet were on the brink of mutiny by about day 3.

Best meal in Birmingham

Authoritative review after wolfing down, almost tastelessly, anything I could get at the most random times: a pint of Guinness and the fish and chips at the Shakespeare, a quaint lovely old-school pub near the main railway station.

It was the day the Games ended, and there was some great company in an older gentlemen who was a Wolves/football fanatic, so that probably helped too.