Commonwealth Games begin with giant bull and classic cars celebrating best of Brum

29 July 2022, 00:25 | Updated: 29 July 2022, 00:34

By Emma Soteriou

The Commonwealth Games have kicked off in style, with the opening ceremony spectacle including a raging bull and classic cars to celebrate the best of Birmingham.

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Local musical heroes Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi took centre stage during the ceremony, which honoured the city's industrial heritage and multicultural tradition.

The performance followed the narrative of young athletes Stella and the Dreamers who all collect pieces of a star which has fallen to Earth,

They represented competitors from the Commonwealth's 72 nations and territories who were later cheered into the arena by a 30,000 crowd at the redeveloped Alexander Stadium, which will play host to athletics when the games starts next week.

Stella and the dreamers held pieces of the fallen star
Stella and the dreamers held pieces of the fallen star. Picture: Getty

Meanwhile, Prince Charles and Camilla arrived in style, driving into the venue in an Aston Martin as part of a convoy of 72 cars which formed a Union Jack when viewed from above.

The parade of red, white and blue cars lined up as the crowds came together to sing the national anthem. It was followed by a Red Arrows fly-past.

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Charles and Camilla arrived in style
Charles and Camilla arrived in style. Picture: Getty
The flypast
The flypast. Picture: Alamy

For many, it was the 10-metre high mechanical 'Raging Bull' - Birmingham's iconic symbol - that stole the show as it billowed smoke into the night sky.

It was brought in for part of the ceremony focusing on the plight of female chain-makers in the early 20th century, leading actors to run and scream.

The bull at the ceremony
The bull at the ceremony. Picture: Alamy

The beast was then tamed by Stella and the Dreamers and a bright celebration followed, mixing various genres of dance.

The ceremony also featured an appearance from 25-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, who now lives in Birmingham and campaigns and raises funds for girls' education programmes in her native Pakistan.

Her determination to stand up for her beliefs almost cost her life, when she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in 2012.

Malala took to the stage
Malala took to the stage. Picture: Alamy

"Tonight teams from 72 countries and territories join the people of Birmingham to celebrate friendship across borders," Malala said.

"They represent millions of girls and boys and our shared goal, where every child can go to school, where women can fully participate in society and where families can live in peace and dignity.

"Remember, every child deserves her chance to fulfil her potential and pursue her wildest dreams."

Prince Charles later officially declared the 22nd edition of the Games open, with a spectacular fireworks display bringing the ceremony to an end and heralding the start of the world's first major multi-sport event to take place free of Covid restrictions since the pandemic took hold.

He also delivered the Queen's message to the Commonwealth Games, where she said the Games "remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations".

She described Birmingham as "a pioneering city which has drawn in and embraced so many throughout its history".

"It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and one which now welcomes you all in friendship," the message said.

More than 5,000 athletes will compete in 280 events across 19 sports in the 10 days coming up, with a para sport programme integrated into the Games. It will also be the first major multi-sport games to award more medals to women than men - 136 and 134.

Other 'firsts' for Birmingham's Games include a Commonwealth debut for women's T20 cricket, and for 3x3 basketball as the Games continues its bid to evolve and remain relevant.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Tom Daley proudly emerged flanked by Pride flags as one of six final torch-bearers to enter the stadium, each of whom represented a different cause or under-represented minority that is closest to their heart.

It came in a bid from event organisers to make the Games as inclusive as possible.