Commonwealth Games: Yorkshire’s Jack Laugher has a poignant reason to shine in Birmingham

Diver Jack Laugher wants to ‘bring it home’ at the upcoming Commonwealth Games for his late grandmother.

Laugher will be the flagbearer for Team England at the opening ceremony in Birmingham on Thursday alongside weightlifter Emily Campbell, who is looking to build on her bronze medal from Tokyo 2020.

The 27-year-old’s grandmother, Bernice, lived her whole life in nearby Dudley, giving Laugher extra incentive to impress.

He explained: “I want to bring it home for my grandma, who unfortunately passed away just a couple of months ago. She lived her whole life in Dudley, so she’s very local.

England's Jack Laugher with his gold medal following the Men's 3m Springboard at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

“It’s been a very emotional time for everybody.”

Laugher is one of England’s most successful athletes at the Commonwealth Games with five gold medals to his name – winning three on the Gold Coast in 2018 to add to his two from Glasgow four years previously.

He told a press conference that victory in Birmingham would add to the list of achievements that his grandmother followed so closely.

He added: “Because of Covid I missed her funeral, it was very difficult knowing that and dealing with that but I think she followed my career so closely and she was so charming in everything that I’ve done.

GOLDEN BOY: Jack Laugher poses with his three Gold medals at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Picture: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

“Going back to her home recently, seeing all the photographs of all my achievements of when I was 15 in Delhi…the pictures were up there.

“When I got my MBE from Prince Charles, she was super proud of me and I’m sure she would want me to do well, so I would like to do this for my grandma.”

Laugher says he is “extremely honoured” after being picked as one of two flagbearers for Team England.

“I’m extremely honoured to be a flagbearer for Team England,” said Laugher.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’ve watched the opening ceremonies with the amazing athletes who have stood before me carrying the flag and representing our country – and to be one of those people, within a home Games, is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy.

“This will be my fourth Commonwealth Games, so representing my country in Birmingham, where my mum is from, is amazing, and to carry the flag is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Harrogate’s Laugher has one Commonwealth silver to accompany his five golds, along with an Olympic gold from Rio in 2016. He has also won Olympic bronze and silver.

The events begin on Friday with more than 5,000 athletes representing 72 nations and territories set to compete across 19 sports.