Lim Heem Wei knows only too well why the Commonwealth Games are nicknamed the "Friendly Games".

The Singapore gymnast competed at both Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 - winning a silver medal on the balance beam in the Scottish city - but was also drawn in by what happened away from her competitions.

"In my experience the Commonwealth Games is the only Games where I felt it was like a festival," said Lim, Singapore's Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022.

"What really stood out from the other Games was, although we were all very focussed on our performance, because that's the first thing while you're there, outside of competition a lot of them [athletes] knew how to switch off that competitiveness.

"There's camaraderie. English is a commonly spoken language, the whole Village atmosphere is not something you get at any other Games. 

"There were really high energy levels outside of the competition. I enjoyed that part of it because as athletes you are so absorbed in your game, in your competition, that you forget there are other things that you could actually be doing outside of that.

"The common language was a major factor. 

"There's no common language across the countries at the Olympic Games, that really helps to bring everyone together."

Lim Heem Wei has competed at two Commonwealth Games for Singapore ©Getty Images
Lim Heem Wei has competed at two Commonwealth Games for Singapore ©Getty Images

Lim competed at the London 2012 Olympics and believes the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games were an important launchpad. 

She said Birmingham 2022 would be an important date for Singaporean athletes, in a year which also includes the Asian Games in Hangzhou and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi.

"The Commonwealth Games is certainly a key major sporting event," said Lim, who carried the Singapore flag at the Glasgow 2014 Opening Ceremony.

"It's a busy year for us.

"But after two years of withdrawals when there was no competition, I think Singaporeans are really looking forward to all these major Games.

"Many of the athletes have trained and prepared years ahead. 

"Personally, I competed in 2010 and 2014 and it [the Commonwealth Games] has been a very significant part of my journey as an athlete. It was one of the major milestones leading up to my Olympic qualification."

Singapore's team in Birmingham should exceed 50 athletes with confirmed sports so far including athletics, badminton, table tennis, swimming and weightlifting. 

"I think integrating Para and able-bodied athletes really helps to bring the community together, and that really sits with the Singaporeans," Lim said.

In swimming, the country will hope to select Joseph Schooling, who made history at Rio 2016 by winning the men's 100 metres butterfly.

When Schooling touched home just a fraction in front of a trio of tied silver medallists including the legendary Michael Phelps, he became Singapore's first Olympic gold medallist in any sport.

The island city-state at the southernmost tip of mainland Asia was celebrating again in December when Loh Kean Yew claimed a shock victory in the men's singles at the Badminton World Championships in Huelva. 

Ranked number 22 in the world and unseeded at the event in Spain, Loh defeated India's Srikanth Kidambi in the final after earlier knocking out Denmark's Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in the first round.

Singapore would dearly love Loh to add the Birmingham title to that world crown, while table tennis has been the country's happiest Commonwealth Games hunting ground.

Out of the 37 gold medals Singaporean athletes have won, 22 have come in table tennis including three at Gold Coast 2018.

Lim Heem Wei carrying the Singapore flag at the Glasgow 2014 Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images
Lim Heem Wei carrying the Singapore flag at the Glasgow 2014 Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

"Joseph Schooling is a household name now as our first Olympic champion," Lim, who won three team gold medals at the SEA Games, said.

"Everyone knows him.

"And badminton has garnered a lot of hype among Singaporeans." 

Lim has moved behind the scenes following her sporting career and is a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation's (CGF) Athletes' Advisory Commission, representing Asia.

"I came on in 2018," she said.

"We are really the voice of the athletes, in ensuring that it's athlete centered and athlete focussed in the CGF. 

"We're trying to push for at least one athlete representative in each Commonwealth Games Association, so then the athlete's voice can be reached. 

"We are focusing on what we can do at the Games for the athletes.

"Brendan Williams is our chair. Whenever something comes up, we have discussions. 

"The nitty gritty, I don't have sight of it, but in general we have been quite involved with many processes." 

At Gold Coast 2018, Lim was deputy Chef de Mission, an important learning curve leading into the top role in Birmingham.

"Going to Gold Coast wearing a different hat, and in a different capacity as I was no longer an athlete, was a great eye opener," she said. 

"I really got to learn what happens behind the scenes, and to appreciate the effort of the team a lot more. 

"They work around the clock to ensure athletes are given the best opportunities and can compete in the best conditions. 

"I'm really thankful for that role, Australia were great hosts. 

"The volunteers were very efficient and helpful and I saw some great breakthrough performances from our athletes. 

"So overall it was a really good experience." 

Swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images
Swimmer Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Singapore has a permanent place in Olympic history as the first host of the Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

It has also hosted the SEA Games four times, most recently in 2015.

The country would have the capability of hosting the Commonwealth Games in the future, should it wish to pursue doing so.

Officials have already expressed interest in bidding for the 2025 World Athletics Championships.

"In terms of capabilities as a host country and a host city, I think we have that track record," said Lim.

"It was quite interesting to see the whole country coming together at the Youth Olympics and rallying behind the athletes.

"I volunteered my time in a couple of roles and was a spectator.

"It was a very heartening experience."

Lim speaks positively about how the country's athletes have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore won praise for its work combatting the virus, including for how quickly it acted to bring in measures to guard against its spread.

"Like everyone in the world, many of our plans were halted, pushed back or delayed," Lim said. 

"But that was a worldwide thing and we adjusted and we have really tried to adapt over the last two years. 

"Athlete safety is our key priority. We really have to adapt, we have to be flexible, we have to adjust. 

"I think during these two years, the biggest takeaway was seeing how resilient and how committed our athletes have been. 

"So many of them have not given up, and they are still continuing to work their dreams. 

Loh Kean Yew is the reigning men's singles badminton world champion ©Getty Images
Loh Kean Yew is the reigning men's singles badminton world champion ©Getty Images

"It's not easy because as an athlete there are so many considerations at different phases of life. 

"I can never fully understand how the athletes feel when there is a cancellation of a competition they have worked so hard for. 

"I'm not in their shoes." 

When the Queen's Baton Relay arrived in Singapore, Lim carried the baton across Marina Bay.

It visited the city's "most instagrammable spots" and took a journey on the Mass Rapid Transit. 

"When the Baton Relay arrived we had a glimpse of what will be offered in Birmingham," said Lim. 

"We have the utmost confidence that Birmingham, as a host city, has what it takes to provide us with an awesome Games experience. 

"I can't wait to experience some of the things they have to offer."