‘Dead pure brillinat’

Glasgow 2014 proved that the world’s third biggest Games — after the Olympics and the Asian Games — is in no way an outdated monolith, but a vibrant platform for the youth from 71 nations that once formed a part of the British Empire to showcase their sporting skills, writes A. Vinod.

Big names, keen competitions, packed stadia, engaging crowds and efficient organisation barring a few minor irritants — the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow had them all. Small wonder then that Hampden Park roared in unanimous appreciation, as the Commonwealth Games Federation President, Prince Imran, declared the event as the best ever during the Closing Ceremony. He went on: “Glasgow, you were dead pure brilliant.”

The 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games will remain for a long time in the minds of all those who were part of the show, this despite the event itself being ridiculed by many as having lost its relevance in the world of sport, what with the all-conquering Americans, Chinese and the Russians never a part of the multi-discipline affair. Glasgow proved that the world’s third biggest Games — after the Olympics and the Asian Games — is in no way an outdated monolith, but a vibrant platform for the youth from 71 nations that once formed a part of the British Empire to showcase their sporting skills.

The point was underlined by the presence of none other than Usain Bolt, the greatest athlete of all time, and many other reigning World and Olympic champions who regaled the spectators with their skill and prowess. Bolt, undoubtedly, was the hero of the Games, anchoring Jamaica to victory in the 400m relay and performing a lap of honour. The Jamaican had the crowd fully behind him, as he voluntarily signed autographs, shook hands with fans and posed for photographs with them.

Incidentally, Bolt had decided against participating in any individual event. He had opted out of the trials back home in the run up to the Games because of an injury.

Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce too was only part of the gold-winning Jamaican women’s 400m relay team. Among other big names, James Kirani accounted for Grenada’s first ever gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, winning the men’s 400m title with ease; Valarie Adams of New Zealand won the women’s shot put gold for the third consecutive time; Greg Rutherford of England, the heart-throb of the crowd, emerged winner in the men’s long jump and Sally Pearson of Australia was dominant as ever in the women’s 100m hurdles.

Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, up against the Jamaicans, was cock a hoop after winning a sprint double in the women’s section and Nijel Amos of Botswana made a late charge to victory in the men’s 800m, ahead of firm favourite David Rudisha (Kenya).

In the pool, Australia was dominant, winning 57 medals in all, but there were clear signs that its once invincible aura was on the wane, as swimmers from England, Canada, South Africa and Scotland too won laurels. However, there was no stopping James Magnussen, Ben Treffers and the Campbell sisters, Bronte and Cate, as they swam to glory. So did Ryan Cochrane of Canada, Chad Le Clos of South Africa, Siobhan O’ Connor of England and young Ross Murdoch of Scotland.

Tom Daley of England proved to be a hit again in diving events, while Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, along with Jodie Thompson marked England’s domination in triathlon.

Claudia Fragapane, just 16 and virtually unknown, suddenly became the talk of the town as she sewed up five gold medals with a string of classy performances in gymnastics, much to the delight of the English camp. And then, Francesca Jones (Wales), with the ribbon and hoops, charted out her own course in history, winning six medals in rhythmic gymnastics. She was later adjudged the winner of the David Dixon Award, given to the most outstanding performer of the Games.

In boxing, England emerged on top with seven medals (5 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze). Paddy Barnes (light flyweight) of Northern Ireland and Nicola Adams (flyweight) of England were engaged in an engrossing tussle in the finals.

Canada emerged leader in wrestling, overcoming a strong Indian challenge while Scotland and England held sway in judo. Malaysia and Singapore shared the top honours in badminton and table tennis.

The rugby sevens, which was a big draw, ended with South Africa turning the tables on favourite New Zealand, while England reigned supreme in squash.

Weightlifter Chika Alamaha of Nigeria and former 400m world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana provided the darkest hour at the Games after returning positive dope tests. Alamaha had won the women’s 53 kg category, while Montsho had finished fourth in the women’s 400m.

The only other low point of the Games was the transporting system, which, at times, went haywire much to the consternation of the organisers.

England (58 gold, 59 silver and 57 bronze; total: 174) knocked Australia (49 gold, 42 silver and 46 bronze; total: 137) from the top of the medals tally for the first time in 28 years. Canada (32 gold, 16 silver and 34 bronze; total: 82) took the third spot, ahead of Scotland (19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze; total: 53).