Aussies lead the way as Brum Games begin

·2-min read

Australian flag bearers, hockey and squash champions Eddie Ockenden and Rachael Grinham, were the first athletes to walk into Alexander Stadium as Birmingham's Commonwealth Games began with a Brum.

Electric Light Orchestra's 'Don't Bring Me Down' played as the team in wattle green were the first country to march into the arena on Thursday night for the 22nd instalment of the Games.

And Australia's biggest contingent for a foreign Games - 435 before some late withdrawals - will channel those lyrics as they look to better the 80 gold won four years ago on the Gold Coast.

Ockenden is gunning for a fourth-straight hockey gold medal in Birmingham and incredibly hasn't lost a game in his three previous campaigns.

Grinham has won eight medals, including two gold, ahead of a record-setting sixth Games appearance.

Before their joyous entry, the history of the city affectionately known as Brum was represented by a 10-metre tall iron-clad bull that was detailed in front of 30,000 spectators.

The ceremony told the story of Stella and The Dreamers, a group of young athletes from around the Commonwealth exploring the working-class city's history of industrial innovation, struggles and success.

In a nod to Birmingham's car manufacturing heritage, locals drove 72 red, white and blue vehicles onto the arena to create a Union Jack and welcome the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince Charles had earlier met with athletes in the village, joking with members of the Australian team that "all the rest are terrified of the Aussies".

He later declared the Games officially open, before Birmingham's own Duran Duran closed proceedings with a medley of their greatest hits.

It triggered the start of an 11-day sporting feast featuring about 5,000 able-bodied and para-sport athletes from 72 nations competing in 280 events across 19 sports.

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