Count Down to the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Commonwealth Games Count Down

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games start two weeks from this Saturday. Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday that my school assembly was interrupted with the news that Robert De Castella had won the marathon at the Brisbane games in 1982.
Despite the obvious disadvantage of not having the same global pull and appeal of the Olympic Games the Commonwealth games have a way of sticking in the memory as well.
I think of Andrew Lloyd’s dramatic sprint down the straight to win the 5000 metres at Auckland in 1990, the same games that Hayley Lewis became the nation’s swimming sweetheart and Cathy Freeman first appeared on the international scene as a seventeen year old relay runner.
Four years later in Victoria Canada Freeman had emerged as both an international athlete and a national figure to be reckoned with.
The games have plenty of sporting currency being both friendly (where else do athletes from St Helena and Norfolk Island get to mingle together?) and seriously competitive (think the Aussies in the pool and the Jamaicans and Kenyans on the track).
In my own experience the commonwealth games of Melbourne and New Delhi stand out as career highlights. In Melbourne in 2006 my beat was the international shooting centre at Fisherman’s bend, a place where a commentator had to work hard to make his allocated sport relevant and interesting if not exciting. Four years later it was the heat and cultural splendour of the Delhi, where I witnessed firsthand Sally McClelland’s cruel disqualification from the 100 metres after she had crossed the line first and was waiting to walk out for her medal ceremony only to be told she had been struck out.
No one knows what the Gold Coast games will bring us or what new stars will emerge but the crowds will almost certainly roll in, the local community will rise to the occasion and all of us will take away memories great and small for another four years.

Peter

There is a wonderful chapter on the Commonwealth Games in Peter's new book Around The Grounds. Keep an eye out for it in stores August 2018

Photo courtesy of:

Matt Lee

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