One year to go!

Golden sands and now the quest for gold medals in 2018

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS -

Ex­ten­sive six-page pull-out on the Com­mon­wealth Games

AUS­TRALIA’S Gold Coast is prob­a­bly the fun cap­i­tal of the na­tion. And, with a year to go un­til it hosts the 21st edi­tion of the Com­mon­wealth Games, it is now set­ting it­self up to sur­pass Mel­bourne as the sport­ing cap­i­tal too.

Mel­bourne may still have the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis, the Grand Prix and be the hub of all things Aussie Rules, but the Gold Coast has been build­ing fa­cil­i­ties and build­ing ca­pac­ity for a ma­jor assault.

A do­mes­tic plea­sure-ground it has al­ways been, now it is seek­ing an in­ter­na­tional pro­file by pro­mot­ing it­self as the per­fect host to a global au­di­ence of around 1.5bil­lion peo­ple.

It is the first re­gional Aus­tralian city to host the Games – pre­vi­ous venues Perth, Bris­bane and Mel­bourne are all State cap­i­tals – and it is pre­par­ing it­self to host around 6,700 ath­letes and of­fi­cials, 15,000 vol­un­teers and thou­sands more staff, me­dia and, of course spec­ta­tors.

Set on the coast some 66 miles south of Bris­bane, just over the New South Wales bor­der and into Queens­land, the Gold Coast is one of Aus­tralia’s fastest-grow­ing re­gions. The lo­cal pop­u­la­tion of around 500,000 is ex­pected to be swelled by around 690,000 do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil doc­u­ments.

And if any­where can squeeze in the hordes and cre­ate a party at­mos­phere, the Glit­ter Strip, home to bars and restau­rants and clubs, and yet more bars, can.

The city, which fea­tures a stun­ning coast­line and glo­ri­ous beaches like Surfers’ Par­adise is trans­form- ing it­self. It has al­ways been a mag­net for what Aus­tralians call ‘schoolies’, a week-long fes­ti­val of teenage de­bauch­ery where ‘leavers’ cel­e­brate the end of their ex­ams and, as­sum­ing they re­turn home in­tact, look for­ward to the next phase of their lives.

For the other 51 weeks of the year, it has al­ways been a mag­net for fam­i­lies at­tracted by the cheap flights, myr­iad theme parks, the beaches and the re­li­ably trop­i­cal weather.

And it has now be­come a mag­net for sport, with pro­fes­sional fran­chises the Ti­tans (rugby league) and the rel­a­tively new Suns (Aus­tralian Rules) based in the city and ru­mours sug­gest­ing the na­tional hockey pro­gramme might be head­ing there from its long-term base in Perth.

April 4, 2018 is the big day when 18 sports and seven para sports will start com­pet­ing. Among those 6,000plus ath­letes will be 10 men’s and women’s hockey teams with Aus­tralia look­ing to pro­tect its mighty golden record, whose only blip came when In­dia’s women tri­umphed at the Manch­ester Games of 2002.

It will be Aus­tralia’s largest sport­ing event of the decade. Sure, they are not the Olympics but as you’ll read else­where on these pages, the Com­mon­wealth Games are pretty sim­i­lar. Only nicer. And more fun.

Sun, surf and sport: Gold Coast City is pre­par­ing to host the Com­mon­wealth Games

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.