Inspired to be an inspiration, Brendan Creed will savour a home Commonwealth Games for more than one reason, writes Megan Armitage.
Born in Solihull, Creed watched on from the crowd at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games but will take to the hockey pitch in Birmingham for his first home Games as an athlete.
And the athlete expressed his delight in showcasing hockey on home soil in Birmingham this summer.
"A home Games, I've never done anything like this in magnitude in the UK,” said Creed, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
"As a kid I went to 2002 Manchester so I grew up in Manchester and that was the first insight into the world of multisport events and I couldn't be more excited because I saw how much of a success that was. And this could be a bigger occasion.
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"I went to watch the hockey. My family have always been hockey people so from that point of view they went and took me along.
"And at that stage I was nine years old so I'm pretty excited just to see everything on the big stage.
'It was almost perfect time of exposure for me to get into the sport itself."
Creed was part of the 2018 Commonwealth Game squad that won bronze on the Gold Coast and stated that his hunger for history has helped spur him on these past four years.
He said: "We were really frustrated from the last Commonwealths just because we knew that no English men's side has ever been in the final.
"We thought it was a real opportunity and we kind of ruined ourselves in the group stage by losing to India last time. So for the few who were in the group who were in there last time, there was the sense this was a real opportunity.
"And from that point of view I think this group is really looking at a real opportunity to win it and get into the final.
"And at home soil with a home crowd. You can't really ask for a better occasion to go out and do something that no English side has done before. So from that point of view it's a really exciting time for us."
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Creed is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.
Creed has had his fair share of injuries to overcome on the journey to Birmingham.
The 29-year-old underwent spinal surgery in 2017 before suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2019 that kept him from the game.
He is currently recovering from an elbow injury but stressed that he's always bounced back and will be ready to give his all this summer.
He added: "I went at [each injury] head on and attacked every day as much as I could.
"Looking long-term, the group’s in a really good place and we've got a cracking foundation from the previous cycle which is now built on by all the exciting talent that's come in and the talent's quickly turning into consistent performances which is a great thing for us."
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