The Commonwealth Games
“The Commonwealth Games is an extraordinary event. It has a spirit and a humanity that's rarely witnessed in any championship.”
Former England competitor Lord Coe (above)
The Commonwealth Games, have taken place in 18 different host cities across nine different countries over more than 80 years, featuring four name changes.
With a rich and colourful history, ‘the Friendly Games’ as we know them have changed beyond recognition since their beginning way back at the Hamilton 1930 British Empire Games. A product of Canada, the Games are now contested by 70 nations with a potential audience of around 2.5 billion people.
England have competed at every Games – one of only six nations to do so - and can proudly point to a rich and colourful history at the competition, be it Sir Roger Bannister beating John Landy in the ‘Miracle Mile’ (Vancouver, 1954), archer Mark Blenkarne’s record setting points total (1982), or Zoe Smith becoming the nation’s first female to win a medal in weightlifting (Delhi, 2010).
There are countless memories and just as many medals. England are the second most successful nation in the history of the Games and have topped the medals table seven times (Hamilton 1930, London 1934, Vancouver 1954, Cardiff 1958, Kingston 1966, Edinburgh 1986 and Glasgow 2014).
Often the first port of call on an athlete’s journey, England have sent some of the biggest and best names to the Games across a wide range of sports.
There are many examples - most recently Audley Harrison (gold, Kuala Lumpur 1998), Sir Bradley Wiggins (three silver medals, Kuala Lumpur 1998 and Manchester 2002), Jessica Ennis-Hill (bronze, Melbourne 2006), Christine Ohuruogu (gold, Melbourne 2006) and Tom Daley (two gold medals, Delhi 2010) to name but a few.
As well as being a potential first taste of a multi-sport event, for English athletes it is also a unique opportunity to compete against opposition who might normally be team mates. England are joined at the Games by Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, adding a home nations twist.
Take athletics and Mike McFarlane's showdown with Alan Wells in the 200m final at Brisbane 1982. The two could not be separated at the finish line meaning they had to share the gold medal in a memorable match up. In 2002 Andrew Baggaley and Gareth Herbert had to overcome Wales' Adam Robertson and Ryan Jenkins to secure a table tennis gold medal.
They may be called the ‘Friendly Games’ but the competition is always intense. Every medal matters and England go to win.
For more on the Commonwealth Games, please visit the Commonwealth Games Federation website.