Long may the Com Games con­tinue

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Peo­ple who sug­gest the Com­mon­wealth Games are a fad­ing sports fes­ti­val and should be put out of their mis­ery are con­fus­ing the Com­mon­wealth with the Com­mon­wealth Games.

It’s true the sun set on the Bri­tish Em­pire decades ago. The Com­mon­wealth, which the em­pire has mor­phed into, is a bizarre col­lec­tion of coun­tries and territories.

These range from ma­jor coun­tries like Eng­land, Canada and Aus­tralia to tiny Falk­land Is­lands, Nor­folk Is­land, Jersey, Niue and the Mal­dives. They come to­gether ev­ery four years to com­pete against each other and the re­sult is in­vari­ably a great sports event.

The Games in Delhi were no ex­cep­tion, de­spite the dire pre­dic­tions be­fore­hand.

There was a bit of a beat-up about some sto­ries that came out of Delhi be­fore the Games. It tran­spired the venues were good, the ath­letes’ vil­lage was very good, there weren’t plagues of mos­qui­toes ready to in­fest ev­ery­one with dengue fever, and se­cu­rity was not re­ally a prob­lem.

The neg­a­tive sto­ries – some fab­ri­cated, as it tran­spired – had an ef­fect. Thou­sands of would-be Games vis­i­tors were per­suaded to stay away, which af­fected the at­mos­phere at many venues. A pity.

But the sport it­self was tremen­dous.

Try telling squash player Joelle King, cy­clist Ali­son Shanks, run­ners Nikki Ham­blin and An­drea Miller, shoot­ers Mike Collings and John Snow­den, our swim­mers, sevens rugby play­ers and the rest that the sport was mean­ing­less.

The women’s hockey play­ers didn’t look like they’d just played in a mean­ing­less tour­na­ment af­ter their penalty shootout loss in the fi­nal to Aus­tralia. They were dev­as­tated.

Equally the Sil­ver Ferns were ec­static af­ter beat­ing Aus­tralia in dou­ble over­time – it was ob­vi­ous what win­ning a Com­mon­wealth Games ti­tle meant to them.

The games are a step­ping stone for many New Zealand ath­letes. In sevens rugby, net­ball and lawn bowls, it is a vir­tual world cham­pi­onship.

In other sports, no­tably squash, bad­minton and swim­ming, the sport is of a very high level.

In terms of sport, it’s a fes­ti­val well worth keep­ing.

Tak­ing the hit: Aotea Col­lege’s Ioane Te­lea braces for heavy con­tact dur­ing his team’s rugby league quar­ter­fi­nal with Tawa Col­lege at Els­don Park last Wed­nes­day. Aotea ran home de­served win­ners, 26-20.

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