Commonwealth Games 2018: Everything you need to know

The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be officially opened in the Gold Coast on Wednesday.

Athletes from 71 nations will compete in what has been billed as Australia's biggest sporting event this decade. 

Spectators can look forward to the largest integrated programme in the history of the Games, with 18 sports and seven para-sports on the schedule. 

Here is an outline of what you need to know about the event in Queensland.

 

WHEN DO THE GAMES START AND FINISH?

The opening ceremony will be staged at Carrara Stadium and organisers have promised a "once-in-a-lifetime event".

The same venue will bring the curtain down on the Games with a closing ceremony on April 15.

 

WHAT IS NEW?

Beach volleyball, para triathlon and women's rugby sevens have been added to the schedule for the first time.

There will also be an equal number of men and women's events at the sporting extravaganza, which has never happened before.

Basketball returns to the Games after a 12-year hiatus.

 

WHO COULD STRIKE GOLD ON THE GOLD COAST?

Elaine Thompson claimed a sprint double on the track at the Olympic Games in Rio two years ago and will have high hopes of adding Commonwealth titles to her list of achievements.

Poster girl Sally Pearson has lived on the Gold Coast for much of her life and the Australian is eyeing a third 100 metres hurdles gold medal in her homeland.

South African's Caster Semenya, a two-time Olympic 800m champion, will take some beating, while Emma McKeon will attempt to win six golds in the pool for the host nation.

England's Alistair Brownlee, another double Olympic champion, and his brother Jonny are among the contenders for the men's triathlon title.

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