Long may the Com Games continue
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.