Birmingham legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne made a surprise appearance to lift the curtain on a hugely successful Commonwealth Games in fabulous fashion.
Osbourne and his band Black Sabbath received a rapturous ovation from the crowd of 30,000 at Alexander Stadium as they provided a fitting climax to a star-studded closing ceremony.
The 73-year-old ‘Prince of Darkness’ has not played for several years due to health issues.
“I love you, Birmingham – it’s good to be back!” he shouted as he took the stage to end the show with the classic hit Paranoid.
The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward, officially declared the Games closed after the flag was handed over to Victoria, the Australian state that will host the 2026 edition.
“Through the manner, style and enthusiasm with which you competed, officiated, supported the organization and volunteered, you have once again brought the spirit and values of the Commonwealth Games to life” , did he declare.
“You have inspired us and hopefully future generations – you have also demonstrated what unites us. Thank you Birmingham and the West Midlands.”
Earlier, other famous Brummie artists including Dexys Midnight Runners, Apache Indian, Musical Youth, UB40 and Panjabi MC entertained the crowd with classic hits amid a parade featuring hundreds of athletes who competed during the 11 days of the Games.
The England team, which collected a record 176 medals during the Games, were the last to enter the stadium to a euphoric welcome from home fans.
More than 1.3 million tickets were sold during the Games across 24 sports – organizers estimate that more than 500,000 of them were bought by West Midlands residents who took the event to heart.
This extended not only to those who attended the sports themselves, but also to the hundreds of thousands of others who packed festival sites at event sites and other landmarks around the city for enjoy the action on the big screen, meet mascot Perry the Bull and soak up the atmosphere.
More than 4,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories competed in 280 medal events over 11 days, producing a host of fantastic feats, moving stories and memorable moments.
With the sun shining for most of the week and a half in the West Midlands, the weather also played its part and it continued with a Closing Ceremony bathed in warm night temperatures.
One of the loudest standing ovations of the ceremony was reserved for the heartfelt speech of the chairman of the Games organizing committee, John Crabtree, thanking the 14,000 volunteers for their efforts and the crowd for their support.
He also praised the seamless way in which disabled sports had been integrated into Birmingham 2022, which featured the biggest para-sports program in Commonwealth Games history.
“I think Birmingham should be so, so proud they have put on an incredible Games,” five-time Paralympic gold medalist Ellie Simmonds, from nearby Walsall, told BBC Sport.
“Sport has the power to change the world and you can see that in Birmingham.”
Closing ceremony to remember
The closing ceremony began with a huge chimney rising from the stage, signifying Birmingham’s industrial history and post-war reconstruction, before cult 1980s band Dexys Midnight Runners thrilled the crowd with an interpretation of their iconic hit Come On Eileen.
Birmingham’s multicultural heritage, which began with the arrival of Caribbean and Asian communities in the city in the 1950s and 1960s, was celebrated with Boom Shack-A-Lak’s performances of Apache Indian and Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie.
This theme of Second City’s diverse communities continued as reggae legends UB40’s Red, Red Wine were followed by model Neelam Gill making an appearance during Panjabi MC Mundian’s hit Bhangra To Bach Ke.
Musicians from the wider West Midlands, including Goldie, Beverley Knight – the soul singer wearing a Wolverhampton Wanderers kit – and Jorja Smith, also performed in a glittering ceremony.
Of course, Birmingham wouldn’t be Birmingham without a nod to the ever-popular TV drama Peaky Blinders via a dance routine, which preceded a powerful segment featuring some of the city’s young spoken word and music talent. region foreshadowing the – hopefully bright – future of the city.
The move to Victoria for the 2026 Games, where the host country promises to stage the “first true multi-city Commonwealth Games” in multiple cities, was followed by Australian songs and choreography, before Osbourne produced the surprise of the night with its unexpected finale. .
Well-placed standard-bearers as Games stars take center stage
A fortnight ago, Jake Jarman was a virtually unknown young gymnast preparing for his first major senior championship – four gold medals later, he’s almost a household name at the age of 20.
Jarman’s appointment as England’s flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony reflects not only her leap from obscurity to stardom, but also the host nation’s unparalleled success in gymnastics at the Games.
The 11 gold medals won by England’s gymnasts have been surpassed by no other sport, with triumphs for hometown favorites Joe Fraser and Alice Kinsella adding to the excitement of the Arena Birmingham crowd.
From Alex Yee triathlon gold medal on the morning of the opening of the Games, through the emotional returns of cyclist Laura Kenny and swimmer Adam Peaty, there were many individual stories.
But the team events provided just as much drama, notably the men’s England final triumph of 3×3 basketball in thrilling overtime against Canada and women final victory in hockey on Australia.
In a Games that for the first time featured more medals for women than men, two-time medalist Eilish McColgan was chosen as Scotland’s flag bearer after the women’s 10,000m champion and Laura Muir have provided the best golden moments of their country’s track and field efforts.
And success in the boxing ring – always a highlight for the home nations – was mirrored by Rosie Eccles and Dylan Eagleson carrying the flags of Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Valuable Games for the host country
Far from the action, the Games captured the imagination of a region and a nation, but they were just as successful from a sporting point of view for the host country.
England had its best medal tally at the Commonwealth Games of 176, beating the loot won at Glasgow 2014 by two, although the 57 gold medals won are one less than the 58 won eight years ago.
Even that tremendous total was not enough for England to repeat their 2014 feat topping the medal table as Australia earned that honor with a further 10 golds and two more medals overall.
They were memorable Games for the other countries of origin too, with Northern Ireland recording their biggest Commonwealth medal return ever and Scotland recording their second highest.
Scotland finished sixth in the medal table with their 51 medals and 13 golds, just behind their respective home Games results of 53 and 19 at Glasgow 2014.
Northern Ireland’s 18 medals and seven gold medals were both new records, beating records set in the last century, while Wales had their fourth best Commonwealth Games with 28 medals.
There was also joy for Guernsey as the Channel Island won its first Commonwealth medals in 28 years with Lucy Beere’s bowls silver and Alastair Chalmers’ bronze in the men’s 400m hurdles.