On Christmas Day 2017 we celebrated 100 days to go until the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. That was just the start of our celebrations, as in the 12 months that’s followed there’s barely been a time when the nation hasn’t whooped, shouted and hollered, such has been the success of Team England’s athletes in 2018.
From Jess Learmonth’s triathlon silver medal on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games, to Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge’s badminton doubles gold medal 10 days later, Team England’s time at the Gold Coast was packed with unforgettable moments to live long in the memory.
Made up of 390 athletes, it was the largest and best prepared Team England team ever to leave our shores and compete at an overseas games.
Leading the way for Team England, gymnast Nile Wilson, who returned to compete at his second Commonwealth Games, won no fewer than five Commonwealth medals (three gold and two silver) in an utterly brilliant display across each of the disciplines he competed in.
Likewise, Team England’s boxing squad were just as dominant in the ring. The likes of Galal Yafai, Sandy Ryan and Frazer Clarke all won their respective gold medal bouts to take England’s boxing tally for the Games to nine medals, including six golds which marked our best gold medal haul in boxing for 84 years.
With Birmingham due to host the next Commonwealth Games in less than four-year’s time, we saw the emergence of a new wave of Team England athletes competing at their first multi-sport games, their performances leaving the home crowd a lot to look forward to in 2022.
To name just a few, 17-year-old Freya Anderson shone in the pool winning two bronze medals, and Georgia Mae-Fenton, also 17 at the time of competing, became a Commonwealth champion in the gymnastics arena.
History was made with Jade Jones-Hall and Joe Townsend becoming the first ever Commonwealth paratriathlon champions. Jones-Hall wasn’t done there though, as she also claimed a bronze medal in athletics with a third place finish in the T54 marathon.
And then, of course, there was netball. Those who were up in the early hours of that April Sunday morning were not left disappointed as they witnessed drama unfold in front on their eyes.
Helen Housby’s last-gasp winner to beat the hosts and defending champions Australia sent ripples around the Commonwealth and swept the nation into netball fever.
But Team England’s year didn’t end in April.
In summer it was time for the European Championships to take centre stage as many of our stars from the Gold Coast prepared for their second multi-sport games of the year.
Adam Peaty was back at the scene where it all began for him at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, leaving competitors in his wake to take gold and break his own 100m breaststroke world record.
Dina Asher-Smith became a triple European champion across 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay, ending her season as the fastest woman in the world this year.
And Ethan Hayter added to his collection of World and Commonwealth medals from this year with a gold medal in the omnium.
Then as summer was over and the Gold Coast sunshine was fast becoming a distant memory, Vicky Holland returned back there in the final race of the World Triathlon Series where she became world champion for the first time.
With so many highlights to cherish, 2018 will be hard to beat. But with a new year on the horizon, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited for 2019.
Gymnastics will be back on the agenda when Birmingham hosts the Gymnastics World Cup in March, before the World Diving Series arrives in London in May.
Following their Commonwealth success, the Roses will compete on home soil in July’s Netball World Cup.
Then, to add some heat into the summer, The Roses return to home soil when Liverpool stages the Netball World Cup in July.
So if 2018 is anything to go by, it promises to be yet another memorable year ahead for Team England’s athletes as the countdown to Birmingham 2022 continues.