Some athletes will only learn if they are heading to the Commonwealth Games at the last moment, but that won't be the case in Guernsey.

The Channel Island is hoping to finalise its team for Birmingham 2022 by the end of January, meaning those successful will have a number of months to get focused for the task ahead.

Six athletes have already been named, with the team set to swell to 28 in the early part of next year.

"I know that's quite early compared to the big teams, but at the end of the day we've only got 28 athlete places," said Angela Stuart, Guernsey's Chef de Mission, to insidethegames.

"The very elite always stand out and for those still on development pathways, they still have competitions between now and the end of the year.

"So they've still got time to gain the standards or get as near to them as they can.

"For the six athletes selected that's good news for them and their preparations."

Among the six selected so far is 400 metres runner Cameron Chalmers, who competed for Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the men's and mixed relays.

His brother Alastair has been chosen in the 400m hurdles, while road cyclists Sam Culverwell, Seb Tremlett and Marc Cox have also been picked.

Triathlete Josh Lewis completes the initial list of names, with Guernsey also targeting places in badminton, bowls, boxing and swimming.

It is also hoped that they could qualify an athlete in weightlifting.

Guernsey's Cameron Chalmers competed for Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Getty Images
Guernsey's Cameron Chalmers competed for Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ©Getty Images

"We're here to support all of them, what assistance they need when they are at the Games and before the Games," said Stuart, the secretary general of the Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association (CGA).

"We're the umbrella supporting the sports. 

"Until we actually make that final selection in January, we won't actually know who's made the grade and who unfortunately won't make it this time."

Guernsey has won six medals - one gold, three silvers and two bronze - in its Commonwealth Games history.

Their last podium finish was a bronze for shooters Adrian Breton and Graham Le Maitre in the 25m rapid fire pistol pairs at Victoria 1994, nearly 30 years ago.

The island has achieved notable success at the Commonwealth Youth Games, however, demonstrating that there is a pathway for young athletes.

Alistair Chalmers won 400m hurdles gold in The Bahamas in 2017, and became British champion last year.

Culverwell won Youth Games silver in The Bahamas in the road race, and now rides for the Trinity Racing team.

Tennis has also provided Commonwealth Youth Games success for Guernsey, although the sport is not part of the senior programme.

Heather Watson, later a mixed doubles champion at Wimbledon, won the girls' singles title in Pune in 2008, before brothers Jack and Brent Oldfield won the boys' doubles in Samoa in 2015.  

Guernsey is another team disappointed that shooting has not made the Birmingham 2022 programme - along with the likes of India and Malta.

Five of the island's six medals have come in the sport, including the only gold won by Breton in the rapid fire pistol at Auckland 1990.

The consolation prize of the standalone Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships in Chandigarh in India was also taken away, as the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were very disappointed and we supported our shooters in writing to the federation for a consideration," said Stuart. 

"Our shooters were keen to go to India because big international competitions are few and far between. 

"So they were very disappointed that it wasn't included, but we can't have all sports in every Games. But it's a shame." 

Tennis player Heather Watson is among the Guernsey athletes to have shone at the Commonwealth Youth Games ©Getty Images
Tennis player Heather Watson is among the Guernsey athletes to have shone at the Commonwealth Youth Games ©Getty Images

Guernsey will struggle to compete in team sports at the Commonwealth Games, as its local organisations are often affiliated to England so therefore cannot enter qualifying events.

But the pandemic has not had the severe impact it has had elsewhere - despite the island enduring two eight-week lockdowns between March and May 2020 and January and March of this year.

"By keeping the borders closed, we've been quite lucky," said Stuart.

"That did mean that some of our athletes who would normally be at university and so on actually stayed on the island, so they were able to compete and train quite openly. 

"We have had competition, albeit local competition. We did have air bridges as well with the Isle of Man for some time, as they were also COVID free. 

"In July this year our borders slowly opened and although we do have live cases now, we're about 90 per cent vaccinated. 

"So the vaccination programme has helped everybody to leave the island and come back. Where there is competition available our athletes are now getting off island and achieving the standards that are required." 

Guernsey's other big multi-sport event is the Island Games, which it is due to host two years later than planned in 2023 after this year's edition was postponed.

The islands of Alderney and Sark - part of the Guernsey team at the Commonwealth Games - compete independently and a separate Island Games Association is in charge of preparations.

"Guernsey does tend to take a big team to the Island Games, the last one was just under 300," said Stuart. "It does go to show that there are a lot of athletes on the island who can achieve that standard.

"But obviously we're all very aware that the Commonwealth Games is a huge step up and for those who are able to achieve it, they are very proud to wear the Guernsey shirt and compete. 

"It's an amazing multi-sport event. The friendships you make with fellow athletes, and the support of fellow athletes, outside of the competition, obviously, is amazing.

"When we're at the Games we report back daily so the media has first-hand information. Our local press, every day it's full of news.

"There's a lot of reporting, both the BBC and ITV television, so it's very widely covered locally."

Guernsey's team will be backed by four sponsors - with these organisations proving vital for costs such as travelling away from the island.

Athletes will be split across two sites in Birmingham after the decision by organisers not to proceed with a main Village.

Guernsey has won one gold medal in its Commonwealth Games history ©Getty Images
Guernsey has won one gold medal in its Commonwealth Games history ©Getty Images

Stuart will be Chef de Mission for the first time after serving as general team manager in 2010, 2014 and 2018, and as sport manager in 2006.

Cyclist Karina Jackson and shooter Peter Jory will take their experience as Commonwealth Games athletes into the governance side as general team managers in Birmingham, while a doctor, physio and sports therapist will also travel.

"We are well equipped to support the team and athletes when they are at the Games," said Stuart.

"How we differ as a small CGA, compared to a large CGA, is that we're all volunteers. 

"I went to Birmingham with Peter and the two of us attended the meetings, attended the sites, we attended the universities. 

"We got first hand knowledge of the bedrooms, where everybody will be living, the walking distances from various places...

"Other large teams obviously have a lot of support staff compared to a small CGA. It's the way it has to be, we just embrace it and enjoy it, and support the athletes the best we can.

"We wear many hats."

Guernsey enjoys local rivalry with fellow Channel Island Jersey, largely thanks to regular inter-island competitions.

Jersey's Commonwealth Games record of one gold and three bronze means Guernsey is currently slightly ahead on the all-time medal table.

"There is always going to be rivalry with the sister islands," said Stuart. "It's normal because we have the inter-insulars. There is competition there, there will be rivalry there.

"But at the Commonwealth Games, because it's so much larger and multi-sport, it's amazing how everyone does rally around when somebody needs something. 

"When they refer to the Commonwealth Games as the Friendly Games, that type of thing does happen. 

"For instance, if we only have one official per sport, and that official is ill or indisposed for any reason, everyone has to rally around. 

"The athletes usually know nothing of any concerns there may be, because we all just deal with it. And if we need to call upon a CGA within Europe, we're all familiar with each other and we wouldn't hesitate to call upon each other if we need assistance.

"It's great camaraderie."