By Ben Hart
Olympian Anyika Onuora said that walking into Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium during the Commonwealth Games, felt like she was attending a Beyoncé concert.
And following the success of Birmingham 2022, Onuora, whose home city of Liverpool also submitted a bid to host the Games, hopes opportunities to host a major multi-sport event are spread throughout the UK in future.
“The Alexander Stadium looked incredible when I went last night,” said Onuora, speaking on the SportsAid Vault podcast.
“I did not even recognise it. I was saying to one of the guys, I felt like I was walking into a Beyoncé concert.
“I saw Jessica Ennis-Hill and she was like, ‘yes, I really want to compete. Look at the crowd.’ And I was like, ‘well, not me girl!’ Like, not me, I am good.
“I just loved watching the athletes and allowing them to have their moment from a spectator's side. We do such a fantastic job of holding events, like major, major events.
“So, it is important that other cities around the UK are given the opportunity. I would love to see more of that.”
Each episode of the SportsAid Vault Podcast provides listeners with unique insights into the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The second series of the podcast, hosted by BBC Sport presenter, commentator, and reporter Tom Gayle, is inspired by the Team England Futures programme, being delivered by SportsAid on behalf of Commonwealth Games England and Sport England and saw over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff attend Birmingham 2022.
In the latest episode, Onuora explained how coaches are assigned to each team at a major Games to manage their training schedule and ensure that all athletes are best prepared for their event.
Onuora recalled how Paula Dunn, a five-time Commonwealth Games medallist and more recently Team Leader for British Athletics, helped to raise her game and set the required standard.
“I learned a lot from her,” Onuora explained. “So, learning about how to get up at 4:30, 5:00 in the morning, being on time for the events, making sure that you are eating properly. You learn all of that from Paula.”
Guests on the podcast also discussed the unsung heroes who helped to shape their career, and Onuora paid tribute to her psychologist for the advice he provided during a career which saw her make the rostrum at all four major events.
“He was amazing, I actually still speak to him to this day,” she explained. “He's still helping me even though I am retired from sport.
“When I was going through any type of stress or anxiety or overthinking my performance, he was just always there.
“He gave me little cues on how to manage my race, manage expectations, but also to go out there and perform.”
The SportsAid Vault Podcast is live and available to listen to now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and Acast! You can find out more about Team England Futures by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.