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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 10:18 GMT
Ones to watch - England
Simon AmorRebecca CookeNathan Robertson & Gail EmmsNeil PerkinsJason QueallyBrett GarrardKelly SothertonRoss Brewer

England came away from hosting the last Commonwealth Games with plenty to celebrate, finishing behind only Australia in the medals table.

They won a total of 165 medals, including 54 golds. BBC Sport looks at eight leading stars going for gold four years on.

Simon Amor
SIMON AMOR
Rugby Sevens

Amor, captain of England's Sevens team for the last three years, will once again lead out his side and is expected to be as influential as ever.

The 26-year-old Gloucester fly-half is among the game's leading stars, having won the inaugural IRB Sevens Player of the Year Award in December 2004.

This will be his second Commonwealth Games, having been part of the squad in Manchester four years ago when England won the Plate final.

Away from the game, he has a degree in management studies, picked up at Cambridge University, and he is also studying for an MBA.

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Rebecca Cooke
REBECCA COOKE
Swimming

The 22-year-old has been a regular medal winner since 1994 when she won her first - bronze at a club championships in the 100m breaststroke.

She's gone on to bigger and better things since then and arrives in Australia as the defending champion in the 400m and 800m freestyle. But she struggled to repeat that success at the Athens Olympics - what she calls the biggest disappointment of her career.

At present she is also the British record holder in the 400m individual medley and the 1500m freestyle.

A keen all-round sportswoman - she used to be a cross-country champion and relishes watching England at football - she lists her favourite foods as pasta and fruit-and-nut chocolate bars.

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Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson
GAIL EMMS/NATHAN ROBERTSON
Badminton

Four years ago, Emms and Robertson were the favourites to walk away with gold in the mixed doubles but they bowed out at the quarter-final stage.

They made amends with Olympic silver in Athens and are consistently one of the best pairings on the world stage.

Already this season, they have won three major titles - the China Open, the Copenhagen Masters and the Swiss Open - but fell at the final hurdle of the All England Championships in January.

The little and large of global badminton - Emms, at 5ft 2ins, is dwarfed by her 6ft 2ins partner - have become household names in Britain.

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Neili Perkins
NEIL PERKINS
Boxing - welterweight

Perkins has already picked up one major accolade recently - being named Boxer of the Year by his amateur association.

A bronze medallist at last November's World Championships, the 25-year-old southpaw is a hot favourite to win gold in Australia.

The welterweight appears to have the beating of all his opponents, particularly with his worlds vanquisher, Belarussian Magomed Nurudinov, not being at the Commonwealths.

Perkins' build-up to Melbourne, however, has not been without its problems after his then two-month-old daughter underwent heart surgery.

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Jason Queally
JASON QUEALLY
Cycling - kilometre/team sprint

At 35, Queally is very much the elder statesman of England's talented track line-up down under.

He already is an Olympic champion - he won gold in the kilometre in Sydney as well as a silver in the team sprint - but he has yet to win the ultimate prize at Commonwealth level.

Queally has a trio of silver medals - one from Malaysia in 1998 and two from last time around.

However he has recaptured some of his best form of late - he won gold with Scotland's Chris Hoy and England's Jamie Staff in the team sprint at last year's World Championships.

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BRETT GARRARD
Hockey

Skipper Brett Garrard is the only member of the England squad with Commonwealth Games experience, having played in Kuala Lumpur (1998) and Manchester (2002).

The hugely experienced Surbiton player already has 152 England caps and has played for Great Britain 58 times.

Garrard, 29, will be hoping to lead England to medal in Melbourne after they finished fifth in Manchester. The number 11 won bronze four years earlier in Malaysia.

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Kelly Sotherton
KELLY SOTHERTON
Athletics - heptathlon

When it comes to gold-medal chances, the 29-year-old is one of England's best.

She burst into the big time in Athens when she surprised many with her Olympic heptathlon bronze but stuttered a year later at the World Championships when a poor javelin competition dropping her to fifth.

With arch rivals Carolina Kluft and Eunice Barber obviously not at the Commonwealths, she will be the star attraction in the women's multi-discipline event.

An all-round sportswoman from a young age - she played netball for Hampshire schools - she will also be doubling up in the long jump in Melbourne.

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Ross Brewer
ROSS BREWER
Gymnastics

Brewer leads Team England's defence of the men's Commonwealth Games team title in the Rod Laver Arena (Thursday 16 March).

Brewer, a 26-year-old accountant from Wallington in Surrey, is bidding for a hat-trick of gold medals having been a member of England's winning teams at the last two Games in Manchester and Kuala Lumpur.

The three-times British all-around champion is by far the most experienced member of the five-man squad.

The other four members are all making their Commonwealth Games debuts - Ryan Bradley, 21, from Dudley; Kristian Thomas, 17, from Wolverhampton; Louis Smith, 16, from Eye, near Peterborough; Luke Folwell, 18, from Huntingdon.

In the women's event, Beth Tweddle would have been a strong chance for gold or silver but was forced to pull out after just 24 hours before the Games opening ceremony after injuring her ankle landing a vault jump in training.

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Links to more Commonwealth Games stories


 


SEE ALSO
Ones to watch - Wales
28 Feb 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Ones to watch - Scotland
28 Feb 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Ones to watch - N Ireland
28 Feb 06 |  Commonwealth Games
Eight to watch - International
28 Feb 06 |  Commonwealth Games


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