RAF News

RAF aviators attending the Commonwealth Games 2022

Image shows the logo of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Official Partner.

A small team of inspirational RAF aviators will be taking part in the Commonwealth Games 2022, from July 28th until August 8th.


AS1 Luke Pollard will be flying the flag for the RAF as a guide athlete for Paralympic triathlete Dave Ellis. There will also be five RAF aviators supporting the Games, by organising and assessing the competitions.

  • Group Captain Jeff Brock – Beach Volleyball National Technical Officer
  • Flight Lieutenant Keith Sparrow – Beach Volleyball Lead Scorer
  • Squadron Leader Phil Rea – Squash Referee
  • Flight Lieutenant Ian Ireland – Boxing Team Leader and Director

They will be joined by around 6,500 athletes and team officials from 72 nations and territories across the Commonwealth. Hosted in Birmingham, the celebration of sport and culture will be the 22nd time the Games has been held and the largest multi-sport event to be held in England in 10 years. 

AS1 Liam Sanford, who saw success competing in the Great Britain Men’s Hockey team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, was hoping to compete for England at the Commonwealth Games. However, injury ruined his chances only weeks before the start.

Read more about how the RAF support Liam’s pursuit of sports.

The whole force would like to wish good luck to the five RAF aviators attending the Commonwealth Games 2022. Their talent and commitment to sports is inspirational and should encourage others to join their local stations sports clubs. The RAF offers unparalleled experiences, flexibility and rewards alongside 'no ordinary job.'

The RAF empowers those to pursue sports alongside service, with the National Governing Body or professional body identifying athletes to participate as an athlete, coach, official or judge at the highest level through the Elite Athlete Programme. This allows leave of absence for prolonged periods of training/competition, in the pursuit of sport full-time while also serving.

The RAF aviators attending the Commonwealth Games are playing under a high-pressure role with millions around the world watching. Their inspirational talent and dedication, focus and professionalism are skills harnessed as second nature to those in sport and working military life.

Luke Pollard

Air Specialist (Class 1) Luke Pollard joined the RAF as a Supplier at RAF Benson. Like many, a station sport club helped him socialise; but little did Luke know this would be the start of his journey to become an elite para-triathlete guide.

Image shows RAF aviator running.
Luke Pollard will attend the Games as a Triathlon Guide for visually impaired.

Luke focused his training, going on to represent the RAF in Inter-Service competitions and winning 10 titles in triathlon, duathlon, and time trialling. He then qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games as a guide for David Ellis – however, a broken bike chain scuppered their chances of a medal finish.

Not letting this hitch hinder the duos pursuit of success, the pair now set their sights on the Commonwealth Games 2022. Luke hopes to continue inspiring others to take up sport and push themselves in their current disciplines.

There is a huge element of pride in representing Team England the RAF and the Armed Forces as a whole – there are so many sports people who are from Forces backgrounds, and there is a strong pride feeling with that.

A lot has changed from when I started, then I was focused on my performance, but as my career carries on more and more people have contacted me, and I have begun to see the impact my efforts and being in the Service has had.

Air Specialist (Class 1) Luke Pollard

Image shows RAF aviator standing on podium with two other medal winners and champagne bottles.

Luke’s Triathlon is set to start from 11:00am on Sunday 31st July. Follow his @Lukepollard91 on social media for further updates:

Read more about Luke Pollard - A Personal Profile

Group Captain Jeff Brock

Group Captain Jeff Brock will attend his first Commonwealth Games to officiate in Beach Volleyball.

Jeff Brock will officiate in Beach Volleyball. Image by Steve Smith: sandsphotos.co.uk.

Volleyball has been a hobby of Jeff’s since he was 18 and has since offered time away from his demanding role at NATO Allied Joint force Command, in Naples. He has officiated at the UK Beach Tour throughout the year and many Service games, including those part of the Battle Back programme. Jeff has also experienced the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2015 Jersey Island Games, as referee.

Group Captain Jeff Brock usually works at NATO Allied Joint force Command, in Naples.

The RAF supporting general physical well-being and sport being a great tool for mental wellness. To represent your country even as an official and not as an athlete is a real honour and privilege.

Group Captain Jeff Brock

Squadron Leader Phil Rea

Squadron Leader Phil Rea is the Head Avionics Engineering Authority in the Chinook Delivery Team and will referee Squash at the Games.

Phil Rea will attend the Games as a Squash Referee.

Squash is rated by Forbes as the number one sports in the world and often ranked among the top for the development of physical and mental strength, endurance, and agility. Most stations offer at least one court for its workforce to enjoy the benefits for themselves; and for Phil Squash soon blossomed into a passion.

The RAF have given me the time to get to events, there are so many things they have helped with, they have been incredible, but I think of people outside the Service having to find the time it would not be possible or at least it would be very difficult.

Squadron Leader Phil Rea

Phil has played Squash since the age of 15 and has competed in Under-25’s and Senior level competitions. He is also the current Senior Men’s Team Captain and RAFSRA Honorary Secretary, taking many skills to the Squash court that are essential in military life.

I have learnt how to adapt, and it will be the same with every match, you need to change to suit that scenario, so my military training works perfectly for refereeing at such a high level.

Squadron Leader Phil Rea

Flight Lieutenant Keith Sparrow

The opportunity to be a scorer in the Beach Volleyball at the commonwealth games comes as a fitting sporting finale to Flight Lieutenant Sparrow’s RAF sporting career, with Keith due to leave the RAF and his current role with 54 Squadron later this year.

For me, having been given a lot of opportunities to undertake sport in the military and given opportunities to represent my Service, I’ve seen that as the organisation giving to me and now with involvement like this I am giving back.

Flight Lieutenant Keith Sparrow

Keith Sparrow will attend the Games as Lead Scorer for Beach Volleyball.

Keith has a long history of accolades, having competed in many Inter-Station Volleyball championships; and managed the RAF Men’s Volleyball Team and the Men’s National League team. He has also refereed at the Transplant Games, Civil Service Games, and British University and Colleges Games, as well as holding responsibility for 85 ladies’ teams as Competitions Commissioner across three seasons.

Flight Lieutenant Ian Ireland

Flight Lieutenant Ian Ireland will volunteer at the Games as an International Federation Services Team Leader for boxing, providing the communications, support. He will also be representing England Boxing as Championships Director.

Ian Ireland will attend the Games as an International Federation Services Team Leader for boxing.

Ian’s aviation career has grown managerial and leadership skills that are invaluable to his work organising boxing for thousands of competitors at major competitions across the world and representing England as a referee or the UK Armed Forces Boxing Association’s (UKAFBA). An inspiration, Ian also facilitates the return of boxing events after the impact of COVID-19 and ensures boxers fulfil their sporting potential – helping students to discover the benefits of sports and achieve their boxing passions.

I have been fully supported by the Royal Air Force, the RAF Sports Federation and the RAF Association throughout my career as an Amateur Boxing Official and have been fortunate to work with some incredible people.

I am truly grateful to my Chain of Command at previous units and most recently at Royal Centre Defence Medicine who have given me the time and opportunity to represent the Service and Country.

Flight Lieutenant Ian Ireland

Good Luck!

Hear more about RAF elite and high-performing Athletes