By Roger Childs

There have been suggestions in recent times that the Commonwealth Games have had their day. Holding these massive multi-sport events like the Olympics is very expensive so is this true of the Birmingham? Well the organizers made two decisions which will have saved plenty of money. The standard games and para-games have been combined which I’m sure the para-athletes plus the spectators will be appreciating.

Why build an expensive velodrome for the track cycling when there is one down the road in London which was used for the 2012 Olympics? Probably many folk viewing on television would not have realized that the bikers were not in Birmingham.

New Zealand is doing well!

Since Hayden Wilde won a triathlon sliver in the first event the medals have been flowing in.
Some success was expected in the pool and the velodrome but at these two venues the Kiwi results have exceeded expectations. In the track cycling we are usually the third or fourth medal winning country but this time we were number one for the first time ever with eight gold medals. Two of the cyclists – Aaron Gate and Ellesse Andrews garnered three gold each. In the pool there has been some unexpected success and Lewis Clareburt has won two gold with the prospects of one more to come.

Often the media over-estimates likely Kiwi success but they have been surprised. There is
even talk of New Zealand breaking the record haul from the 1990 Games held in Auckland.

The crowds have come out
The people of Birmingham have supported the events in their droves. It is great that some races can be viewed for nothing in the streets like the marathons, triathlons and walking events. Having the finishes for most of these events in down-town Birmingham has been hugely popular. Furthermore with the combining of the para-athletic events and the usual contests four marathons were held on one day with massive, enthusiastic crowds on the pavements.

Admiring skill, speed and strength
The appeal of seeing the best in the Commonwealth in a huge range of sports is the opportunity to admire the quality of performance in throwing, running, cycling, swimming, bowls, table tennis, weight-lifting etc …

There is also the thrill of seeing small countries pick up medals – sometimes unexpectedly. Samoa won a men’s weightlifting gold in the 96kg class much to the delight of the crowd. After his final lift winner Don Opeloge danced for joy with his heavily tattooed friend. One expected gold for a small country was in the women’s triathlon. The best athlete in the world Flora Duffy comfortably won the gold for Bermuda.

Always some controversy

New Zealand was involved in the first event. In the men’s triathlon Hayden Wilde was given a 10 second penalty for starting to undo his helmet before he had finished racking his bike in transition after the cycle. The rules are clear and Wilde was definitely in the wrong. It was a pity, however, because there was the prospect of a rapid sprint to the line between Wilde and arch rival Englishman Alex Yee. The large crowd was denied that excitement and the athletes were disappointed they couldn’t provide a close finish.

Plenty still to come
The Games are about half way through and there are great outdoor events to come such as the track and field, cycling road races and time trials and the mountain bike races, as well as plenty of indoor contests. Great viewing in store.