THE Commonwealth Games 2022 starts today, with excitement building for the event held in Birmingham.

Wales is sending 201 athletes - including 22-year-old Penarth boxer Haaris Khan.

Mr Khan will be competing in the 75kg men's boxing, commonly known as the middleweight division.

He has already tasted success, winning the Haringey Box Cup in 2019 as a 19-year-old.

Mr Khan has lived in Penarth all of his life, and trains in Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

"I'm born and raised in Penarth, I went to Stanwell, I played rugby and football for Penarth, but it was always boxing I chose over those things," said Mr Khan.

"I've never even left home to be honest, everyone else travels for this as it's for all over Wales and there are some English with Welsh heritage.

"A lot of people do travelling but I'm only down the road in Penarth going down to Sophia Gardens - when I went to uni I didn't even leave Penarth."

Mr Khan's love for his home town is evident, though he has travelled around the world to compete in boxing tournaments, with his favourite fight coming against a Norwegian fighter in the Czech Republic.

He comes from a line of sporting greats - his grandfather won a British championship in boxing, and his uncle, Wales rugby interrnational Jamie Ringer, competed in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.

He also paid credit to his uncle who trained him when he was younger.

It was his dream to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games this year, but due to Covid he only joined the team recently.

Mr Khan said: "It's been my goal to go to the Commonwealth Games, I got selected for the Welsh team in around December and I joined the full time programme this year.

"That was my goal from when I was just boxing locally, I was always planning to get get onto the Welsh programme in order to qualify for Commonwealth Games.

"Compared to everybody else do they do a four year cycles usually, so from the last Commonwealth Games they can be brought on.

"But I got brought on just this year, a few months before and I had to qualify within that time.

"So it was a big, big achievement for me to reach that goal."

The training schedule is brutal, with the boxers having to take special care to regulate their weight.

However, the training and the fights against boxers around the world have given Mr Khan confidence.

"We've been around sparring in a lot of programmes against different countries and alongside all the people there," he said.

"They are world class to be honest, those who are on the national programme. So you know where you stand.

"Now we actually live it whereas before boxing was almost in the background as a hobby, go to university and things like that, but now is a full time thing."

Mr Khan, whose boxing icons are Muhammad Ali and Tommy Hearns, said that to get into the correct mindset before the fight he thinks of all the work that came before.

"I personally just know how hard the training has been and all the sacrifices that have been made, in terms of the hard training, the early mornings, the long days," he said.

"I think 'this is the easy part'.

"You've got to take it for what it is, we do so much hard training - we run Merthyr mountains in the morning and Brecon mountains in the mornings and if my coach said to me that I've only got to do three rounds today, I think that's quite an easy day.

"So I just find myself at ease if I just take it for what it is, rather than take it for the occasion, I think I've already done the hard work.

"Now I'm really looking forward to the games to come ahead because because I know how hard the training has been getting myself ready for it."