by Andrew Brassleay,
Tuesday 3 Apr 2018
The Commonwealth Games – known affectionately and somewhat quaintly as the Friendly Games – returns on April 4. The Games may feel anachronistic with the days of Empire long past, but they still provide great sporting highlights and a chance for athletes across the Commonwealth to make a name for themselves and claim a medal. Plus, there’s no other multi-sports event that allows England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island to compete under their own flags. Australia’s Gold Coast is hosting the event, with 70 nations from across the Commonwealth set to compete in 18 sports – including, for the first time, beach volleyball. Here’s a look back at six moments from the games’ history.
1. Ian Thorpe wins gold. Lots of gold
What had you done by the age of 15? Personally, I’d won the league in Kick Off 2 on the Atari ST a number of times and had fielded for the school cricket team. Not batted and bowled. Just fielded. Ian Thorpe’s misspent youth, which had seen him wasting his life splashing about in the pool under the searing Aussie sun, earned similarly rewarding dividends by the same age. Namely four goal medals in the swimming at the Commonwealth Games in 1998. The Thorpedo managed to claim five Olympic titles after this success before burning out and retiring at the age of 23, but it was at these games that a sporting legend came to worldwide attention.
2. Where’s the cricket?
With most of its major competing nations in the Commonwealth, and its huge popularity within the group, you’d think cricket would be a shoo-in for the games. Not so. In fact, the sport’s one appearance at the games, in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, was nothing short of a disaster. With crowd numbers seemingly in single figures for some matches, games not even given full-international status, many of the sport’s major players giving it a miss and England not even bothering to show up with a team, what could have been a major showcase for the sport – and a launchpad into the Olympics – ended up a damp squib. South Africa won, by the way. Though few remember.
3. Mark Lewis-Francis and Dwain Chambers crash out
The most hyped event at Manchester 2002 was the 100m final, with either of England’s Mark Lewis-Francis or Dwain Chambers expected to claim gold in front of the home fans. It wasn’t to be, with the pair seemingly unable to cope with the pressure and extraordinarily pulling up yards from the finishing time, leaving St Kitts and Nevis’s Kim Collins to claim first place.
4. Paula Radcliffe wins gold
One English athlete who did succeed in 2002 was Paula Radcliffe. Before breaking the marathon world record – and a London Marathon victory made all the more impressive by an infamous mid-race poo – Radcliffe’s first major gold medal came in front of cheering crowds in Manchester in the 5000m.
5. Usain Bolt makes an appearance
Athletics’ greatest showman and trailblazer finally gave the Commonwealth Games a spin in 2014. After denying that he had called the games ‘a bit s***’ the Jamaican superstar emerged for the Men’s 4x100m relay on the final weekend of the tournament, and trotted round on the final leg to help Jamaica break the games’ record and claim gold. All in a day’s work.
6. England top the medal table for the first time in 28 years
Australia were pretty much guaranteed their place on top of the podium for successive games until England managed to turn the (medals) tables on their sporting rivals in Glasgow in 2014. Off the back of the success at the London Olympics, several gold medallists in 2012, including long jumper Greg Rutherford, managed a Commonwealth double. Which nation will claim top spot in 2018?
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2018/04/03/6-memorable-moments-in-the-history-of-the-commonwealth-games-7424893/?ito=cbshare
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