While the sun may have set a while ago on the British Empire, much of the pomp and circumstances of the time endures to date. The Commonwealth Games, especially for sports fans, are the epitome of those traditions. Glasgow, Scotland plays host to this year’s edition of the quadrennial sports festival that mirrors the Olympics, albeit in a smaller scale for most of the English-speaking world outside of the United States.
Many of the world’s greatest track athletes are invited, making the event a significant fixture on the track calendar. With countries like Jamaica, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, and India being represented, the competition is sure to be intense. Of course, the United Kingdom will also bring their best athletes to Glasgow as well. However, in this competition they represent their home nations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales instead of wearing the Union Jack.
While the withdrawal of Mo Farah is a big blow to the event, there is still enough great talent in the mix to create legacies and introduce new heroes. The most prominent name on the marquee is surely Usain Bolt, but he is only committed to Jamaica’s 4 X 100m relay team. Other prominent stories include Kenyan David Rudisha, world record holder in the 800, continuing his comeback from injury. New Zealand’s Valerie Adams is continuing her unprecedented winning streak in the shot put, and Englishman Greg Rutherford is hoping to add a matching Commonwealth medal to his Olympic gold in the long jump.
The Opening Ceremonies occurred yesterday and featured Rod Stewart belting out his hits and Scottish terriers leading each country in the parade. Also, during the opening ceremonies, £3.1 was raised for the charity Unicef to help children world wide with some of the participating countries being some of the neediest. While athletes don’t take to the track until Sunday, competition has started in earnest today with swimming, track cycling, gymnastics and many other sports already handing out medals. England’s Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny did do some running today to win gold and silver (respectively) in the triathlon while Jodie Stimpson won for England on the women’s side.
The Commonwealth of Nations is, at best, a rough alliance of countries that share some language, culture, and an increasingly distant history under one monarchy (many times an unsavory history at that). The ability of the countries to come together and celebrate many of their greatest athletes is worthy of notice. Athletes like Bolt and Rudisha, choosing to travel to Glasgow and represent their countries instead of saving their legs for more lucrative meets in the months to come, is a testament to the games and their prestigious history.