In de­fence of the Comm Games

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

It’s seven weeks un­til the Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games, and the doom mer­chants are out in force.

Ap­par­ently the Comm Games are ir­rel­e­vant and mean­ing­less and no top ath­letes com­pete.

It’s not true, of course. The Com­mon­wealth Games are like a mini- world cham­pi­onship in sev­ens rugby, net­ball and lawn bowls. In other sports, in­clud­ing cy­cling, hockey, triathlon, swim­ming, ath­let­ics and squash, the level is ex­tremely high.

The rest - gym­nas­tics, box­ing, bad­minton, ta­ble ten­nis, weightlift­ing, wrestling, shoot­ing and judo - of­fer par­tic­u­lar op­por­tu­ni­ties for New Zealan­ders. Most of our com­peti­tors in those sports would not qual­ify for an Olympics, so the Com­mon­wealth Games is per­fect for them.

The Comm Games are en­joy­able be­cause they are a man­age­able size, there is a com­mon lan­guage, and they don’t suf­fer from the mas­sive hype of an Olympics.

Here’s hop­ing Glas­gow can make it third time lucky for Scot­land. The 1970 and 1986 Ed­in­burgh games were marred by poor weather and in 1986 there was an African boy­cott, too.

Keep a par­tic­u­lar eye on these New Zealan­ders:

Val Adams, shot put: Adams is as near a gold medal cer­tainty as there is. That would make it three in a row for her.

Nick Wil­lis, 1500m: Gold and bronze in his two pre­vi­ous Comm Games, Wil­lis will be at­tempt­ing to defy the sands of time one more time.

Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill, shot put: Our young shot put­ters have cre­ated a stir at home. Can they do so at the next level up?

Lauren Boyle, freestyle swim­ming: Three world cham­pi­onship medals last year. What next for Boyle?

Glenn Sny­ders, breast­stroke swim­ming. The bril­liant Sny­ders has been knock­ing on the door at ma­jor meets. This could be his time.

Sophie Pas­coe, swim­ming. Hav­ing won three golds and three sil­vers at the 2012 Lon­don Par­a­lympics, Pas­coe looms as a star of the Glas­gow games.

Sev­ens rugby: Can Gor­don Ti­et­jens’ team make it five golds in a row?

Net­ball: Af­ter golds in 2006 and 2010 (in golden goal over­time), the Sil­ver Ferns are seek­ing to make it three wins in suc­ces­sion over arch-ri­vals Aus­tralia.

Jo Ed­wards and Val Smith, lawn bowls: A strong team of 15 has been selected, but watch for Jo Ed­wards in the sin­gles and Val Smith and Ed­wards in the pairs. Mem­o­ries of their world champs ti­tles in Christchurch in 2008 are fresh.

An­drea He­witt, triathlon. He­witt is a class act and very ex­pe­ri­enced. Noth­ing is be­yond her. Watch also for in­jury-plagued Kate McIl­roy, who has made an im­pres­sive come­back.

Men’s sprint, cy­cling: Ethan Mitchell, Sam Web­ster and Ed­die Dawkins are world cham­pi­ons, but will be pushed hard by Eng­land and Aus­tralia. Our track cy­clists won nine medals in Delhi.

Joelle King, squash. Af­ter her gold and sil­ver at Delhi, King, now fourth in the world, is a strong medal prospect, though she has the in­com­pa­ra­ble Ni­cole David to con­tend with.

Women’s hockey. The Black Sticks were des­per­ately close to a medal at the 2012 Lon­don Olympics. They’ve been hit by re­tire­ments and in­jury, but are so plucky a medal is not be­yond them.

Mike Collings and John Snow­den, full­bore ri­fle pair: The de­fend­ing Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pi­ons don’t get much pub­lic­ity, but two in a row is a pos­si­bil­ity.

Photo: MICHAEL BRADLEY

Mak­ing a splash: Swim­mer Lauren Boyle won three medals at the 2013 world champs. She’ll be hop­ing for even more suc­cess in Glas­gow.

JOSEPH ROMANOS

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