Friday, May 31, 2013

The mystique of the Commonwealth Games


The mystique of the Commonwealth Games

By Bing Haarhuis
The Daily Magi
October 24, 2045


The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 and has taken place every four years ever since (except 1942 and 1946 which were cancelled). The Games are described as the third largest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games.

It was initially known as the British Empire Games and was renamed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 and the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, before finally gaining its current title, the Commonwealth Games, for the 1978 edition. The Games are overseen by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), which also controls the sporting programme and selects the host cities. A host city is selected for each edition and eighteen cities in seven countries have hosted the event.

As well as many Olympic sports, the Games also include some sports that are played mainly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls, rugby sevens and netball. Only six teams have attended every Commonwealth Games: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. Australia has been the highest achieving team for eleven games, England for seven and Canada for one.

Although there are 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations, 71 teams participate in the Commonwealth Games as a number of British overseas territories, Crown dependencies, and island states compete under their own flag. The four Home Nations of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – also send separate teams.

A sporting competition bringing together the members of the British Empire was first proposed by the Reverend Astley Cooper in 1891 when he wrote an article in The Times suggesting a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire".

In 1911, the Festival of the Empire was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V. As part of the festival an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics.

In 1928, Melville Marks Robinson of Canada was asked to organise the first British Empire Games. The first Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The name changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, to British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and assumed the current name of the Commonwealth Games in 1978. At the 1930 games, women competed in the swimming events only. From 1934, women also competed in some athletics events.

The Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were held alongside the Commonwealth Games from 1962 to 1974. In the regular Commonwealth Games, athletes with a disability were first included in exhibition events at the 1994 Victoria, Canada Games At the 2002 Manchester Games they were included as full members of their national teams, making them the first fully inclusive international multi-sport games. This meant that results were included in the medal count.

The Empire Games flag was donated in 1931 by the British Empire Games Association of Canada. The year and location of subsequent games were added until the 1950 games. The name of the event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the flag was retired as a result.

Lawn bowler Willie Wood from Scotland is the first competitor to have competed in seven Commonwealth Games, from 1974 to 2002. Also, Greg Yelavich, a sports shooter from New Zealand, has won 12 medals in seven games from 1986 to 2010.

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