The Edmonton 1978 Commonwealth Games - We Are England
The Edmonton 1978 Commonwealth Games
David Bryant

The Edmonton 1978 Commonwealth Games

England beat Australia but had to settle for second to a successful host nation in the medals table.

1978 saw a third name and third visit to Canada for the competition, though there was an outside chance the Games could have been hosted in Leeds. A vote six years earlier during the 1972 Olympics in Munich saw the city defeated by 36 votes to ten, and with the cost of preparing a team and sending it to Canada described by England officials as 'astronomical', there may well have been high hopes for the Yorkshire city's failed bid.

But as it was the Games were hosted in Edmonton. England's official report described the Games overall as 'a memorable milestone in the history of the Commonwealth Games movement' but conceded that 'the competitive standard, although high, did not reach world class in every event.'

If ever England had an athlete they knew they could rely on for gold it was lawn bowls man David Bryant (above) who won his fifth and final title in the singles. Bryant saw off the challenge of John Snell to claim the honour, the second successive year he had faced an Australian in the final.

If there was a sport to expect plenty of medals in, it was badminton. Derek Talbot won his final three Commonwealth Games medals to take his tally to seven, with four of the six titles going England's way with seven top three finishes. Nora Perry also won three gold medals, winning the mixed team, women's doubles and mixed doubles events.

Big athletics names made winning appearances for England. It was a Commonwealth Games debut for Daley Thompson, the decathlete who would go on to set the Games' record points total in his event. Finishing nearly 800 points ahead of his Kiwi rival Peter Hadfield and more than 1000 above fellow Englishman Alan Drayton, he celebrated a gold medal victory.

David Moorcroft, still as of 2014 the holder of the UK's 4000m record, just edged out fierce competition from Tanzanian Filbert Bayi in the 1500m final to take the title whilst Brendan Foster won the 10,000m gold. England's women did even better by winning nine gold medals of the available 15. Tessa Sanderson won the first of her three gold medals in the javelin, and then there were victories for both the 4x100 and 4x400m relay teams. England topped the sport's medal table by an impressive nine gold medal margin over Australia.

1978 saw the first inclusion of gymnastics which was later confirmed as an optional sport. England's first showing was positive, winning silver in both the men's and women's team events, beaten both times by a dominant Canada who completed a clean sweep.

In aquatics Sharron Davies and Chris Snode were particular highlights. Davies won four swimming medals including two gold in the 200m and 400m individual medley, whilst diver Snode won both diving titles.

At the age of 42 a familiar face won gold - but not for England. Precious McKenzie now representing his fourth team at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, New Zealand, won the bantamweight crown in his final Commonwealth appearance. Having begun his sporting career with the South African Olympic team, he became a British citizen for the 1966 Commonwealth Games and then turned out for Great Britain.

Next up, Brisbane in the first Commonwealth Games of the 1980s.