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Meet the Indigenous athletes heading to the Commonwealth Games

When Alex Winwood was 15 years old he stepped into the boxing ring at the Eureka Boxing Gym in his hometown of Mandurah.

In 2020, the Noongar man became an Olympian, competing at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Now, the 25-year-old is putting on the green and gold again and heading to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.

Mr Winwood is one of 11 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes traveling to the games. It’s the largest number of Indigenous athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games, with seven of those competing being Indigenous women.

Brandon Wakeling

This isn’t the first Commonwealth Games for Campbeltown-born weightlifter Brandon Wakeling, who competed in 2018 not long after his debut in the sport. In 2021, the Wonnarua man became the first Indigenous weightlifter to compete at an Olympic Games in 20 years – after Anthony Martin’s debut in 2000.

“Very grateful to represent my country at my second Commonwealth Games,” Mr Wakeling wrote on Instagram.

“Looking forward to doing you all proud and trying my best to come home with some hardware.”

Taliqua Clancy

Two-time Olympian and fan favourite, Taliqua Clancy is representing Australia yet again in Women’s Beach Volleyball.

The proud Wulli Wulli and Goreng Goreng woman started her sporting career in Netball but fell in love with volleyball at 17.

She became the first Indigenous person to compete in the sport at an Olympic level, competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Donnell Wallam

Noongar netballer Donnell Wallam is making her Commonwealth Games debut this year.

The 28-year-old will be the first Indigenous player to make the Diamonds squad since Sharon Finnan-White in 1990.

Ms Donnell made her Queensland Firebirds’ main squad debut this year, after shooter Romelda Aiken-George announced she was pregnant.

The rising star made headlines after her Commonwealth Games call-up, saying that she “thought it was a scam” at first.

RubyStorm

Ruby Storm will also be competing at Birmingham. The swimmer made history in 2019 World Para-swimming Championships taking home a bronze medal for the mixed 4x100m freestyle S14.

In 2020, Ms Storm won both a silver and bronze medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

ally wilson

Alex ‘Ally’ Wilson will be competing in 3×3 Basketball on the international stage at the Commonwealth Games.

Ms Wilson began her career at only 16, debuting with junior club Eastern Mavericks in South Australia.

Murray Bridge local and two-time WNBL champion posted a heartfelt message on Instagram about her Commonwealth Games debut.

“Just a young Ngarrindjeri kid from the country of South Australia,” she wrote.

“I had coaches when I was 12 years old tell me I wouldn’t amount to anything: “I didn’t work hard enough, wasn’t this, couldn’t do that.”

“This is what dreams are made of. Proof it’s not impossible, nothing is. Been counted out my whole life and against all odds here we are.

“Going to the Commonwealth Games. Never give up”

Ash Gardner

Muruwari woman and cricket star, Ashleigh Gardner was named the 2021-22 Belinda Clark Award winner as the nation’s best female international player.

She made her T20I debut in New Zealand in 2017 and in 2019 became the third Indigenous player, and second woman, to play Test Cricket for Australia.

The 25-year-old will be competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Maurice Longbottom

NSW boy and former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior, Maurice Longbottom will be competing in rugby at the Commonwealth Games, his second Games after competing at the Gold Coast in 2018.

In 2020 he made his Olympic debut in Tokyo, competing in the Men’s Rugby Sevens.

Mary Williams

Wiradjuri woman from Parkes and Hockeyroo Mariah Williams is representing Australia again in Birmingham.

She got her first international cap at only 17 in a test series against Korea in Perth.

In 2016 she competed in the Rio Olympic Games, and again in Tokyo in 2020.

Callum Peters

North Adelaide boy Callum Peters will make his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham.

At only 19-years-old, Mr Peters will be the youngest player in the boxing team heading to the games to compete in the 75kg middleweight division.

The young star already has titles to his name and was brought into the ring by his father, Bradley, who coached him at the North Central Boxing Club at Kapunda near the Barossa Valley.

Indi Cooper

Gundagai-local and para-athlete Indiana Cooper will make her Commonwealth Game debut at Birmingham. At only 16 years old, Ms Cooper dominates the track and set a new national record for the T38 800m sprint in 2020.

“I’m bound for Birmingham! Happy to announce that I will be making my debut for Australia at the Commonwealth Games in July,” the young star wrote on Instagram.

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