The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games may be scheduled for the English summer, but that doesn't mean the athletes will be competing in hot weather.

For Belize, an important aspect of preparations will be coping with temperatures that will be much colder than they are used to.

"Everyone will have at least a week to acclimatise," said the country's Chef de Mission, Giovanni Alamilla, to insidethegames.

"When people say it's summer in the UK, it's our 'winter', but in Belize we don't have winters. 

"The coldest it'll get here in Belize is 65 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Over there the warmest it might be is that!

"We do need that time to acclimatise. We'll get into the Village the day they allow us to, that will give the team time to recover from their flight and do some training as well."

Belize's maximum team size in Birmingham will be 15 athletes, with six cyclists and four in track and field confirmed so far.

The country will also send a triathlete and is hoping to be awarded other places.

One athlete to watch could be 100 metres sprinter Shaun Gill, who came close to qualifying outright for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

He eventually competed with backing from Olympic Solidarity, running 10.88sec in his heat.

Belize have yet to win a Commonwealth Games medal in their history ©Getty Images
Belize have yet to win a Commonwealth Games medal in their history ©Getty Images

"If he does go to the Commonwealth Games, he would be one that we'd hope would get to the semis at least," Alamilla said.

The Queen's Baton Relay is this month due to reach Belize - a country which is something of an anomaly as the only English-speaking nation in Central America.

Alamilla, a vice-president of the Belize Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association who previously held the roles of treasurer and assistant secretary general, is in charge of the Relay's festivities.

Plans include trips to Mayan temples - something not found anywhere else in the Commonwealth - and the Great Blue Hole, a huge circular sinkhole which is popular with scuba divers.

"I try not to have events centralised only in Belize City, we have taken the baton to various villages and towns in previous editions," said Alamilla. "We will do that again.

"Leading up to the baton's arrival and also the Games, we will be visiting all the local media houses to raise awareness.

"We'll get a lot of the kids involved and some cultural experiences and demonstrations as well."

The COVID-19 pandemic had a big impact on sport in Belize, with the country only ending its compulsory curfews on March 1 this year.

"We've had a curfew in place since March 2020," Alamilla said.

"We didn't have any contact sports for about a year and a half. 

"In the middle of last year, they started allowing some sports but no contact sports. 

"Even cyclists were only allowed to ride single file on the road. 

"There were a lot of restrictions."

Belize, which boasts a stunning coastline and the second largest barrier reef in the world, uniquely competes in both the Central American Games and the Caribbean Games.

There is also the event which combines the two - the Central American and Caribbean Games - and the continental Pan American Games.

Qualifying athletes is the main challenge with Belize normally having to rely on tripartite or solidarity spots.

Belize is planning to send six cyclists to the Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images
Belize is planning to send six cyclists to the Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

"One of the major hurdles with development is you always need access to competition, and you also need the facilities to be able to train," said Alamilla. 

"In every developing country that's always the first thing they'll say, 'we need facilities'. 

"But you do with what you have.

"To qualify for these major Games you need to be able to compete, and we just don't have the financing to send an athlete every three weeks or so to go and compete.

"The Belize Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Association receives no funding from the Government. All of our funding comes from the International Olympic Committee, Panam Sports or the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"There is some Government funding that goes directly to some selected National Federations."

At the London 2012 Olympics, Kenneth Medwood of Belize reached the semi-finals of the 400 metres hurdles, where he finished fifth.

This remains as one of the country's best performances at the very top level, but the 34-year-old has now retired after suffering from injury.

Belize is home to the Marion Jones Sports Complex in Belize City, which lies two feet below sea level.

Jones, the American sprinter who was famously stripped of the three Olympic gold medals she won at Sydney 2000 for steroid use, is a citizen of Belize and her mother was from the country.

She celebrated with both the United States and Belize flags in Sydney, but has lost every major honour she won apart from three World Championship golds.

"We do have some facilities available, but it's mainly indoor for basketball and volleyball, those being the larger team sports," said Alamilla. 

"The Football Federation of Belize through FIFA have their own funding available to them. 

Kenneth Medwood reached the Olympic semi-finals in the 400m hurdles at London 2012 ©Getty Images
Kenneth Medwood reached the Olympic semi-finals in the 400m hurdles at London 2012 ©Getty Images

"We do have a national stadium that has a synthetic track, but that's the only thing that's there, it's not complete."

All of Belize's swimming pools are in hotels, resorts or privately owned, something Alamilla needs to manage as President of the Belize Triathlon Association.

Training in the sea is not ideal, but at least that takes the triathletes to a truly beautiful stretch of the Caribbean.

"It's one of the best diving spots in the world," said Alamilla.

"We have a large amount of atolls and reserves. 

"Our sea life is very much alive and I would hope it continues to be fully protected for years to come."