New Zealand duo Paul Coll and Joelle King will headline the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games draws after being designated top seeds in the men’s and women’s draws.
Defending CWG singles and women’s doubles champion, World #5 King is a three-time gold medal winner at the Games, winning a women’s doubles gold in the Delhi 2010 Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Games, where she also won the women’s singles gold. Since 2010, the 33-year-old has also won bronze and silver medals in the mixed doubles and a bronze medal in the singles.
World #2 Coll, who in March 2022 became the first ever male from New Zealand to reach World No.1, was a beaten singles finalist in the Gold Coast 2018 Games, where he also won a mixed doubles bronze alongside King.
“I think anyone from a Commonwealth country would say it’s the pinnacle for our sport,” King said. “It’s the biggest opportunity in terms of mainstream media for people seeing you out on that stage. I think it’s an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. For me, personally, and for a lot of Commonwealth Games athletes, it’s definitely the pinnacle to try and bring home gold medals to your country.
“I don’t think, at 21 and going into my first Commonwealth Games in India, I could have imagined I’d be at my fourth here in 2022. To be going back, just to compete, let alone as the defending champion in the singles, which was a dream come true, I’m looking forward to being the ‘old head’ in the team!”
Both second seeds have strong ties to this year’s Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Birmingham, England from 28 July to 8 August 2022. In the men’s draw, Wales’ World #7 Joel Makin is a long-time resident of Solihull, less than eight miles from the courts he will soon be playing on.
Similarly, England’s Sarah-Jane Perry is from the nearby town of Kenilworth and will be hoping to add to the singles silver medal she won in 2018.
“It’s got a huge amount of importance,” Makin said. “Especially being at home, I’ve got a lot of good support from my friends and family. Everyone’s going to be there and getting behind it.
“We travel all over the world, you might be playing somewhere like America or Egypt, and no one’s there with you a lot of the time. It will be nice to actually have that home support where everyone’s there and everyone’s behind you.
“It’s especially exciting to be playing in Birmingham. There’s a lot of buzz about it.”