Commonwealth Games England has renewed its deal with Kukri Sports ©Getty Images

Commonwealth Games England (CGE) has signed-up Kukri Sports as its official kit supplier as the country prepares to play host to Birmingham 2022.

It means Kukri will provide gear for English athletes for the third Commonwealth Games in a row following Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018.

The deal covers 19 different sports and a virtual athlete panel has now been set-up to keep athletes at the forefront of the design process.

Each sporting governing body that represents English athletes at Birmingham 2022 was able to nominate two people for the panel to help create the Team England identity.

A first video conference between 23 athletes, from 17 sports, has already been held, which included CGE President Denise Lewis.

The CGE's athlete representatives on its Board, swimmer Aimee Willmott, netball player Ama Agbeze and powerlifter Ali Jawad, were also involved.

"It's fantastic that athletes have agreed to give up their time and contribute to such an integral part of Team England's identity," said Lewis, who won the Olympic heptathlon title at Sydney 2000 and Commonwealth gold twice.

"The look, feel and the general wow factor of the team kit for our home Games in 2022 is so important. 

"When it comes to kit, each sport has specific requirements and needs, therefore the functionality of the apparel produced has to be right. 

"It's also important that we look and feel like 'one team.'"

The panel meeting was due to take place in person but went ahead virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athletes also had a say in the kit design in Glasgow and Gold Coast but the number involved in the Birmingham 2022 process has more than doubled.

Each athlete was sent a design package consisting of a book with blank sketch pages and coloured pencils, which they filled in and fed back to the team.

"We're delighted to be partnering with Kukri Sports again for Birmingham 2022," said Paul Blanchard, the chief executive of CGE.

"With a home Games, we know our kit has to be impactful and create a strong image of our Team England values but most importantly the athletes need to feel comfortable in what they perform in. 

Each athlete was sent a design package consisting of a book with blank sketch pages and coloured pencils ©CGE
Each athlete was sent a design package consisting of a book with blank sketch pages and coloured pencils ©CGE

"The process we've been through with Kukri over the last two cycles has worked to refine our kit with a focus on performance and we will build on that to show off our best in Birmingham. 

"It's been incredible, given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 that we have been able to engage with so many athletes in an innovative way and I would like to thank our partner governing bodies for their support in this process.

"The size of our kit project is huge with the complex nature of accommodating for 19 different sports, including eight Para-sports, and over 600 people and Kukri have proven time and time again that they are up for the challenge.

"We're really looking forward to seeing the designs come to life after today and we can't wait to share it."

Kukri provided England with 38,000 items of kit for the Gold Coast 2018 cycle.

"We are delighted to be working with Team England for the 2022 Games, which will be our third cycle alongside the team," said Chris Marshall, director of sales at Kukri Sports.

"As an English brand working towards a home Games, this collaboration has been made all the more special. 

"Our renewed partnership has been the culmination of a project undertaken after the Gold Coast Games in 2018. 

"We have always been proud of our heritage in providing truly bespoke apparel, however in 2018 we knew we had to be innovative and bold in developing a new capability and product range to work with Team England again, as they prepare for Birmingham. 

 "The England team want to be at the pinnacle of their performance at every competition, so we developed with them. 

"With this in mind, the range we are designing, with the input of the Team England athletes, will be a new chapter in the company's history and one we cannot wait to launch."