Saint Kitts and Nevis is hoping that the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be the perfect showcase for the country's young athletes.

The Caribbean nation is focusing on youth and wants to bring through the next generation of stars to compete at the very highest level.

Sprinter Kim Collins, who won gold in the 100 metres at Manchester 2002, remains as the only Commonwealth Games medallist from the islands.

Collins added the world title in Paris the following year but Leroy Greene, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022, wants to find the athletes to surpass his achievements.

"We are going with the young people, they are the future of our sport," he said to insidethegames.

"A number of our top athletes have retired so we're bringing through this young crop. 

"This young crop is who we expect to compete for us, not only in Birmingham but at the next Olympics.

"We have a youthful population and we're pushing our young people to be the vanguard for the next Olympics, definitely."

Collins' gold in Manchester was the first major sporting title for Saint Kitts and Nevis, a country which only became independent from Britain in 1983.

Kim Collins won 100 metres gold for Saint Kitts and Nevis at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images
Kim Collins won 100 metres gold for Saint Kitts and Nevis at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

His victory proved to be controversial as he was allowed to keep his medal despite failing a drugs test for an asthma medication after the race.

The final had been highly eventful, with England's home favourites Mark Lewis-Francis and Dwain Chambers both pulling up with injuries to allow Collins to pounce.

"It was our first international medal so we applaud Kim for that, and the people who made Kim as he didn't do it by himself, he had his coaches and a lot of preparation," said Greene. 

"We're happy about that but we're looking for the people to go even further.

"We have to use the experiences we gain from international competition to bring the next crop of young athletes through."

Collins has moved into coaching, with Jason Rogers the current prospect from Saint Kitts and Nevis who is looking to emulate his 100m achievements.

The 30-year-old reached the semi-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the final at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, finishing sixth.

"He trains in the States with a new coach," said Greene. "With short preparation for the Olympics he did very well. 

"We expect him to do great things in Birmingham."

Saint Kitts and Nevis plans to take between 10 and 12 athletes to Birmingham 2022, in athletics, beach volleyball and table tennis.

The country has sent three athletes to the ongoing Junior Pan American Games in Cali, including runners Amya Clarke and Tah'j Libard who could graduate to the Birmingham 2022 team.

Greene said next year's event will almost be like a "home Games" for the islands, due to the amount of people from Saint Kitts and Nevis who have settled in Birmingham.

Lincoln Moses, the general manager of West Midlands football club Continental Star, will be acting as the team's "chaperone" when they get to the Games.

Moses has recommended English-based players who are eligible for the Saint Kitts and Nevis football team, including Romaine Sawyers who has appeared in the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion.

Jason Rogers reached the Tokyo 2020 Olympic semi-finals over 100m and the Gold Coast 2018 final ©Getty Images
Jason Rogers reached the Tokyo 2020 Olympic semi-finals over 100m and the Gold Coast 2018 final ©Getty Images

"He'll be holding our hand when we go to Birmingham, and lead us through," said Greene. 

"It's a huge event. It's like the Olympics, you know? 

"You have all the big stars from Africa and Europe. To compete there is what the athletes in Saint Kitts and Nevis want to do. 

"These are the big stars that they see on television. It's a big thing, it's a huge thing for us here in Saint Kitts. 

"For athletes from a small island to be competing with all these international athletes... 

"So it's big and gets a lot of a coverage."

Greene said that COVID-19 has had a "huge" impact in the country, with outdoor practice allowed but local leagues currently suspended.

He is a highly-experienced sports official and was part of the group which founded the Saint Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC) in 1986, three years after independence.

"There was opposition to that because some people, even some of our athletes, would say 'why do we want to go to the Olympics, we have the other territorial Games which we go to?,'" said Greene.

"People weren't looking that far to the Olympic Games. They were saying 'we're too small, we don't have a lot of athletes'. 

"There was a little disbelief that it could happen. So, when it happened, it was a big thing. Like 'you guys have actually got it done.'"

The SKNOC has been able to buy and renovate its own headquarters but sport faces problems from climate change and hurricanes.

Greene is the President of the country's handball association after deciding to introduce the sport in 2009, but has been forced to battle with rising sea levels.

"We do not have a proper indoor facility so we focus on beach handball," he said.  

"For the past several months we couldn't play because we lost the beach to a tropical storm. 

"So the beach is now being refurbished, they are dredging and putting sand in and that kind of thing, to get the beach back the way it was. 

"So we have already seen what the ravages of climate change can do."

The main track and field facility in Saint Kitts has been damaged during hurricanes, while lights at venues have blown away and other facilities have lost their roofs.

Saint Kitts and Nevis established its National Olympic Committee in 1986 ©Getty Images
Saint Kitts and Nevis established its National Olympic Committee in 1986 ©Getty Images

"Every year we have to spend money to put things back in," Greene, a founding member of the Caribbean Anti-Doping Organization, said.

"I don't think people have climate change on the front-burner, but it should be. 

"We've seen changes in temperature - it's hotter now than it was when I was a young boy. The hurricanes that we get are stronger. The rain pattern has changed. Every year we lose beach when we have hurricanes."

Greene has been SKNOC assistant secretary general since the organisation's creation, and was Chef de Mission when the country made its multi-sport debut at the 1993 Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico.

He has since been Chef de Mission at every Summer Olympics since Athens 2004 - except Tokyo 2020 which he skipped over COVID fears - and the Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The country's first Olympic Games was Atlanta 1996 when the country took 10 athletes, but the wait for a first medal goes on.

"That was quite a lot of athletes for us, as back then you could just go to the Olympics," Greene said.

"We now have athletes every four years who qualify to go to the Olympics, so we're very proud of the sporting history in Saint Kitts and Nevis. 

"But we hope to improve on those successes and go even further than we have in the past."