H&F athletes ready to take Commonwealth Games by storm

Competitors from Hammersmith & Fulham are counting down to the start of next week’s 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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Pole vaulter Molly Caudery. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Competitors from Hammersmith & Fulham are counting down to the start of next week’s 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

There are real medal prospects among a quartet of hopefuls who train with Thames Valley Harriers’ coaches at the Linford Christie Stadium in White City.

Here’s who will be representing England at the 22nd Games, which runs from 28 July to 8 August:

Molly Caudery – Pole vault

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Pole vaulter Molly Caudery was Team England’s youngest athlete at the last Games, held on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018, where she finished fifth with a personal best of 4.53m.

She bettered that this year, vaulting an impressive 4.60m at the 2022 Huelva Meet, before flying out to Oregon to take part in her first World Championship.

“I had a great time, jumping against the best in the world, and I’m proud to have made it this far,” she said. “Now it’s time to refocus on the Commonwealth Games.”

Coached by Scott Simpson, and now aged 22, Molly won a silver medal at the age of just 17 at the 2017 European Athletics U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy.

Lorraine Ugen – Long jump

Lorraine Ugen (coached by Dwight Phillips) is 30, and will be competing at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham in her specialist long jump event.

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It’s one in which she won bronze at the recent World Athletics Indoor Championships. Ugen is a talented multi-event athlete, previously representing her country in both the long jump and 100m.

She won gold at the 2018 Games as part of the 4x100m relay team, but her speciality is the sandpit. The two-time Olympian claimed her second world indoor bronze in March with a distance just shy of her 7.05m personal best.

Though sponsorship has been hard to come by, Lorraine showed her enterprise by sitting down at her sewing machine earlier this year to invent her own clothing brand. “I decided to create my own uniform and brand to support myself,” she said, after turning her front room into a dispatch centre for orders.

Amelia Strickler – Shot put

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Amelia Strickler (coached by Zane Duquemin) is an American-born shot putter who moved to the UK with her British mother in 2016, and a year later claimed silver at the British Athletics Championships.

The former microbiology student at Miami University, Ohio, went on to make her Team England debut at the 2018 Games.

The 28-year-old reached the final that summer, later becoming a two-time British champion and becoming a regular at the Thames Valley Harriers’ track by Wormwood Scrubs.

Amelia has spent the past week at the World Championship in Oregon, building up to Birmingham while dodging the record temperatures in England. “I’m not going to lie; I’m glad I’m missing the UK heatwave because I’d be up all-night sweating and staring at the ceiling,” she said.

Chris McAlister – Hurdles

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Perseverance has led hurdler Chris McAlister to be selected for his first Commonwealth Games. The 27-year-old’s first appearance in the 400m hurdles at the British Athletics Championships in 2016 saw him fail to get out of the heats.

A final would follow in 2017, before an unlucky fourth place in 2018. He climbed on to the podium in 2019 after securing bronze... before 2020 saw that medal upgraded to silver.

Coached by Marina Armstrong at the TVH track, he has now earned a place at the Games for the first time; one of 72 athletes who have been chosen to represent the home nation.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to be picked for Team England,” said Chris. “It’s a lot of hard work from me, and my team, that has got me here.”

Freya Patel-Redfearn – Badminton

The other west Londoner to cheer on is Freya Patel-Redfearn a 21-year-old rising star of the badminton court.

Freya was a dominant force at youth level, playing many of her earliest matches on courts in Hammersmith & Fulham. She won three medals at a single English Championships back in 2016, and the early signs are that she can maintain that momentum in the senior ranks.

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Freya Patel-Redfearn. PICTURE: TEAM ENGLAND

She won two games at her maiden European Championships in April 2021 and made her Badminton World Federation bow in the same season.

An excited Freya, who is of Indian and British legacy, said: “It’s such an honour to be part of Team England and I can’t wait to get up there and perform, especially at a home Games with support from friends and family!

“As a kid, I did gymnastics, ballet, netball, and a bit of swimming because I wanted to try different things out and I had a very sporty family. I played quite a lot of tennis too with my siblings, but then I found badminton when I was about nine and really took to it because it was my thing, and it was nice to be different.”

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