Antigua and Barbuda has never won a medal at the Commonwealth Games, so if they were to break their duck at Birmingham 2022 it would be a momentous occasion.

The twin-island nation is due to send 10 athletes to the English city, in athletics, boxing, cycling and swimming.

Like most countries in the Caribbean, the biggest hopes perhaps come in sprinting.

"That would be big-time," said Joel Rayne, Antigua and Barbuda's Chef de Mission for Birmingham 2022, when asked about the possibility of reaching the podium.

"In track and field we have never had anybody medal at that level - the Commonwealth Games, World Championships or Olympics.

"We have had medals at the Pan American Games and junior Games, but at the senior level, at those major meets, we are yet to medal. 

"So it would be a big, big thing here in Antigua and Barbuda.

"As you know we are very much a sporting culture, predominantly cricket and football, but track is on the rise. 

"It [a medal] would be good for the young athletes coming up. Someone for them to emulate and try to model themselves on."

Double Olympian Cejhae Greene, who trains in Florida, will be looking to impress for Antigua and Barbuda in the 100 metres.

Double Olympic sprinter Cejhae Greene is a hope for Antigua and Barbuda ©Getty Images
Double Olympic sprinter Cejhae Greene is a hope for Antigua and Barbuda ©Getty Images

The 26-year-old ran a wind assisted 10.01sec in Miami in April and boasted the world leading time at one stage last year, heading into the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympics where he was disappointed to exit in the heats.

"He made it as far as the semi-finals at the Rio 2016 Olympics," said Rayne, the assistant secretary general of the Antigua and Barbuda Olympic Association.

"However, in Tokyo, given the COVID situation, his training was affected and he was dealing with some niggling injuries. 

"He didn't perform the way he thought he should.

"He's on the mend now so we're expecting great things from him.

"He won a bronze at the last Pan American Games, so we're just hoping that will carry on." 

Antigua and Barbuda first competed at the Commonwealth Games in 1966, and also featured in 1970 and 1978.

After this, however, the country was absent until 1994, from when it has been ever-present.

"The Commonwealth Games is treated similarly to how the Olympic Games is treated," said Rayne.

"We've competed in about 10 Commonwealth Games to date, unfortunately for us we are yet to stand on the podium.

"So we're just hoping that an attempt comes this summer in Birmingham and we get some luck coming our way."

Other athletes to watch in the Antigua and Barbuda team include boxer Alston Ryan, who qualified for the men's lightweight competition at Tokyo 2020 outright after coming through the Americas qualifier.

Ryan, who like Greene won a bronze medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, lost his opening bout in Tokyo to Armenia's eventual bronze medallist Hovhannes Bachkov. 

Boxer Alston Ryan qualified for the Olympic Games through the Americas tournament ©Getty Images
Boxer Alston Ryan qualified for the Olympic Games through the Americas tournament ©Getty Images

"Unfortunately for him as well, COVID dealt him a rough deal in terms of preparation for the Olympics," said Rayne. 

"Because he was unable to get the kind of sparring that he needed. 

"He didn't get a lot of practice. But he's made the qualifying standard in terms of his ranking in the Americas."

Rayne was also Antigua and Barbuda's Chef de Mission at Tokyo 2020, but Birmingham 2022 will be the first time he takes on the role at the Commonwealth Games.

"It was a unique experience for all of us," he said of the Games in Japan, which took place largely behind closed doors and with numerous COVID rules.

"We're accustomed to fans in the stadium, we're expecting the interaction between the different federations, associations and athletes. 

"We couldn't really do much of that. 

"But overall I think it was a well executed Games put on by the Japanese Government and the Organising Committee. 

"We went in with not much expectation, just to make sure athletes and officials are kept healthy, and they achieved that so in all there were not many complaints. 

"We knew exactly what we were going into and it was a different phenomenon, no-one has ever experienced that."

Rayne added that the COVID-19 pandemic had not significantly impacted Commonwealth Games preparations, as restrictions at home were lifted in time. Some athletes, like Greene, are based abroad.

Ryan trains in the UK, alongside a female boxer who Antigua and Barbuda hope will be the first woman to enter the ring for them on the international stage.

The lack of coronavirus rules also meant that two days of celebrations during the Queen's Baton Relay visit could be held in full.

Included on the itinerary was the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, which is home to approximately 100,000 birds.

Sprinter Dwayne Fleming and swimmer Ethan Greene were among those to hold the baton.

Brendan Christian is Antigua and Barbuda's only Pan American Games champion, with the country still searching for a Commonwealth medal ©Getty Images
Brendan Christian is Antigua and Barbuda's only Pan American Games champion, with the country still searching for a Commonwealth medal ©Getty Images

"We had a grand celebration," said Rayne, who also works as a sports anchor for a television network. "We are twin islands, so it went to our sister island. 

"Then it travelled the streets in Antigua. 

"Unlike some other territories and countries where because of COVID they were unable to do much, the good thing for us is we had no restrictions so we were able to go all out." 

Last year, Antigua and Barbuda installed a new athletics track at its Yasco Sports Complex.

"There's some work to do in terms of infrastructure, but given our limited financial resources you can understand how it goes in these smaller territories," said Rayne.

Cricket is the number one sport and Antigua and Barbuda, which has a population of under 100,000, has punched above its weight when it comes to producing the best players in the world.

Legendary West Indies batsman and skipper Viv Richards is the most well-known export, with a stadium built for the 2007 World Cup bearing his name.

"We also had Andy Roberts who was before him, and followed by Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson," Rayne, who has attended every Summer Olympics since London 2012, said.

"We have a number of others, the list goes on and on.

"But in terms of prominence of course, there's none other than Sir Vivian Richards." 

Sir Vivian attended the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games as Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador, returning to India where he famously made an unbeaten 192 runs in 1974 in what was only his second Test match.

Women's T20 cricket will debut at Birmingham 2022 with Barbados representing the West Indies, but Rayne is hopeful Antigua and Barbuda will be able to challenge for the spot in future.

"The female game is in an embryotic state in Antigua," he said.

"We're not at the level of Barbados, Trinidad or Jamaica yet. 

"But hopefully with the long-term planning they have in place, maybe the next two Commonwealth Games from now we might be able to be the team representing the West Indies." 

West Indies often dominated global cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, but mixed fortunes since then mean the sport does not hoover up young sportsmen and women in the Caribbean as it might once have done.

"The pool for cricketers is not as deep as before," said Rayne. 

"A lot of athletes are going for other sports like track and field, swimming, basketball and volleyball. 

Sir Vivian Richards is one of the best batsman in cricket history ©Getty Images
Sir Vivian Richards is one of the best batsman in cricket history ©Getty Images

"It's very diverse now, it's not just cricket alone, and also football.

"In terms of youngsters, cricket is not as big as it used to be, simply because of the inconsistent performance of the West Indies."

Backing onto Antigua's airport is the Coolidge Cricket Ground, built by disgraced American businessman Allen Stanford who pumped millions into the sport before being convicted of massive fraud in the United States and sentenced to 110 years in jail.

A much happier memory in Antiguan sport is the gold medal won by 200m runner Brendan Christian in Rio de Janeiro in 2017, which to date is the country's only success at the Pan American Games.

Rayne said he was pleased with how preparations for Birmingham are going after visiting the city in March.

"I'm very impressed with what's going on, comparatively speaking, with other Games I've attended," he said.

"They just laid down the new track, I hope it's going to be a fast one. 

"The aquatics centre where swimming will take place is also a magnificent legacy pool which I was impressed with.

"I'm looking forward to the experience come the summer in Birmingham."

Coping with cooler and seemingly random weather conditions in England will be a challenge for all those coming from hot countries.

"Sometimes it's nice and hot and then it gets cold and windy and wet," said Rayne.

"It's something we'll have to deal with, coming from the tropics.

"We'll be ready, we'll be prepared. 

"We know what we need to do. I was there in London for the 2012 Olympics, so we're envisioning similar conditions. 

"We are very much aware and on top of things in terms of that."