Birmingham's own Laura Unsworth bestowed honour of the passing of the flag at tonight's closing ceremony

·2-min read
Commonwealth Games - Hockey - Women - Gold Medal Match - England v Australia - University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash centre, Birmingham, Britain - August 7, 2022 England's Laura Unsworth in action REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Commonwealth Games - Hockey - Women - Gold Medal Match - England v Australia - University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash centre, Birmingham, Britain - August 7, 2022 England's Laura Unsworth in action REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

By Josh Graham in Birmingham

Hockey hero and local girl Laura Unsworth revealed she was speechless after being given the honour of handing the Commonwealth Games Federation flag to Australia for Victoria 2026 at Birmingham’s closing ceremony.

England’s most decorated hockey player Unsworth, from Sutton Coldfield, is the first athlete ever to be bestowed the privilege after helping her side win a first Commonwealth gold over Australia on her fourth attempt.

Team England have had a record-breaking Games, moving past their previous best tally of 174 medals from Glasgow 2014.

Unsworth, who is approaching the 300-appearance mark, said: “It’s an absolute honour to hand it over in my home city of Birmingham to Victoria.

“I was speechless when I was asked. Birmingham has put on a fantastic Games, and for me the highlight has got to be winning that gold medal on my fourth time trying.

“it’s been an absolute whirlwind and the best 24 hours of my life. The city has been alive and the crowds at every single game have been incredible; they have been our 12th man at times.”

After winning three previous Commonwealth medals, Unsworth finally came away with the colour she had always wanted in her hometown.

England outclassed Australia with a masterful performance gilded by first-half strikes from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard that secured a 2-1 victory and sparked delirious celebrations.

Before Sunday’s golden afternoon, England stood on the podium in all six Commonwealth tournaments but never on top step.

Meanwhile, gymnast Jake Jarman will carry the flag at the closing ceremony at Alexander Stadium after becoming the first Englishman in 24 years to win four gold medals at the same Commonwealth Games.

Mark England, Team England’s chef de mission, said: “As Birmingham 2022 comes to a close, we will reflect on the success of our athletes and the pride we have all felt when supporting Team England this summer.

“Each and every Team England athlete has contributed to this incredible Games, and we are excited to see Jake Jarman lead the team as our Closing Ceremony flagbearer.

“There have been so many incredible athletes at this Games but Jake Jarman was the standout, and winning four gold medals, he made it an easy decision for us.”

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