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Commonwealth Games also known as CWG is the second largest sports competition in the world after Olympics. It is held once in four years but only in between the Olympic years. Started in 1930, CWG was initially known by various names such as the British Empire Games, Friendly Games and British Commonwealth Games. Since 1978, they came to be known as the Commonwealth Games. A unique characteristic of the Commonwealth Games is that it is the only Games, which share a common language, English.
The Commonwealth Games is a world-class multi-sport meet of athletes from around the world which is governed by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). Members of the Commonwealth of Nations that majorly formed a part of the British Empire during the colonial rule participate in it.
There are currently 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations and around 71 countries participate in the Games every fourth year. The four constituent countries of the United Kingdom-England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland send separate teams to the Commonwealth Games.
The aim of CWG is to improve social cultural relationships and promotion of democracy and Human Rights. Hailed as “Non Political”, the Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independent sovereign countries that support each other and work towards shared goals in democracy and development.
It's origin can be traced back to 1930 when the Games were held for the first time in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and saw the participation of 400 athletes from eleven countries. Reverend Ashley Cooper was the first person to propose the idea of having a Pan-Britannic sporting contest to foster a spirit of goodwill and understanding within the British Empire. In 1928, a key Canadian athlete, Bobby Robinson, was given the task of organizing the first ever Commonwealth Games.
Since then the CWG have enjoyed a smooth innings except for a 12 year hiatus during the World War II, as the Games in 1942 to be held in Montreal were cancelled. Originally having only single competition sports, the 1998 Commonwealth Games at Kuala Lumpur witnessed a major change when team sports such as cricket, hockey and netball made their first appearance.
In 2001, the three core values of Humanity, Equality and Destiny were adopted as the motto of the Commonwealth Games. These values inspire and connect thousands of people and signify the broad mandate for holding the Games within the Commonwealth.
There are a total of 31 sports which have been approved to be a part of the Commonwealth Games. Out of these, the sports in the category of Core Sports are mandatory in all the Games.
The Core Sports are Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Field Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Rugby Sevens, Squash, Swimming and Weightlifting. Apart from these, there are optional sports which are picked by the host country and seven para sports.
The Optional Sports are Basketball, Cycling, Diving, Gymnastics, Judo, Shooting, Synchronized Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Triathlon and Wrestling. Till now only six teams have attended every Commonwealth Games- Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.
Looking at the host countries the United Kingdom has hosted the Games for a record 5 times while Australia and Canada have hosted it four times each. The 2010 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XIX Commonwealth Games was held in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, India. It was the largest international multi-sport event to be staged in India, eclipsing the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982. The official mascot of the Games was Shera and the official song of the Games, "Jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto", was composed by celebrated music maestro A.R. Rahman. The motto for 2010 CWG was “Come Out and Play.”
India’s performance in the games was outstanding and has become remarkable in the history of Indian Games. It is the first time for India that our Athletes brought highest number of Gold medals ever in any Commonwealth Games. Out of 826 medals India won 101, including 38 Gold, its highest ever, to be the second in tally behind Australia with a total of 177. We also brought home 27 Silver and 36 Bronze medals.
Krishna Poonia was undoubtedly the start of India’s victory spree at the Commonwealth Games by getting One Gold leading a clean sweep of Women’s Discus Throw. The second Gold was clinched in Women’s 4x400m relay. Three new national records were also made by Prajusha in Women’s tripla jump, Maheshwary in Men’s triple jump and by Men’s 4x400m relay team.
The record haul in Shooting was setup by the shooters, with Gagan Narang, bagging four Gold medals. Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh also bagged Gold in 10m Air Pistol (Pairs) Shooting. An unforgettable winning by India was finally led by Badminton Player Saina Nehwal in Women’s Singles final when she had an unbeaten 4-0 record against her opponent; Malaysia’s Wong Mew Choo and won the Gold medal.
The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is a prestigious and important event. The Queens Baton Relay is a part of the opening tradition and has been a symbol of the Games since 1958. The Baton used in the 2010 CWG was made from Aluminium and Gold and had various features like capturing image and sound, storing messages sent by the people all over the world, GPS, and LEDs to represent the colour of the flag of the Nation which it is currently in. The Queens Baton relay is started by the nation who held the last Commonwealth Games. The final relay runner is the current host nation.
In 2014, the Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow, Scotland for over 11 days commencing from 23rd July to 3rd August. In the games 71 nations will participate and 17 sports will be played.
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This was New Delhi with its best, chaotic, colourful face put forward to the world – complete with monkeys, snakes, cicadas and moth invasions. It dazzled at the opening ceremony even though the cracks underneath had already emerged.
The Games cost the country dearly, and more than the massive budget overruns, estimated by some to be upwards of £4 million.
It suffered a shattered international reputation in its ability to meet deadlines, to keep to cost, to construct rigorous buildings, to get rid of the old corrupt ways and to be a global technology giant.
But within India, those organisational complaints are dismissed as an anti-Indian conspiracy by the West.
When the question about international bias was posed by an Indian journalist, the organising committee chairman, Suresh Kalmadi, muttered "no comment", and then went missing from the next media inquisition.
Still, behind the scenes there are major corruption inquiries into the shoddy construction, fraud allegations and the ticketing mess that left some "sold out" stadiums empty.
Lalit Bhanot, the organising committee secretary general, acknowledged there might be some outstanding issues. "If corruption is proven it should be investigated," he said.
Once the competition started, the focus was on the sporting endeavours rather than the boxing weights that had not been calibrated correctly, nor the murky filtration of the aquatics centre, nor the ancient starters guns at the athletics and cycling.
In the lead-up to the Games the slums were cleared, the beggars removed. The Indians wanted every guest to feel welcomed. And they were paranoid (with some justification given the intelligence reports) about an attack on the Games.
So they trained gun sights on athletes and officials, had a tiered security system that was both tiring and sensual (the jokes about the personal pat-downs which alternated between intimate and groping started from day one), and shut down the city completely on high-risk days of the ceremonies and during open-air events like the cycling road race.
An accidental shooting of an athlete was always a risk, but thankfully never happened. Instead, the security accident occurred when a spiked barrier ejected from the ground caused a car crash and injured three Ugandan officials.
Mike Fennell, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, was buoyed by the experience of New Delhi.
"I think that what has happened here demonstrates quite clearly that there is a very strong future for the Games,” Fennell said.
"We had a lot of questions about cancellation, but the Games have been celebrated in very fine style. Obviously, we have to address some of the concerns and improve the product as we go along."
Athletes who withdrew before the Games might well be regretting their decision, according to Dame Kelly Holmes, president of Commonwealth Games England.
Although conceding that the England team's participation had been on a knife edge in the build-up because of concerns about the athletes' village, Holmes said: "A lot of athletes who pulled out made rash decisions because of the information that was out there, instead of having trust that we, as a nation, would be thinking of their interests first and only of them.
"That's a shame because I think a lot of athletes pulled out only because of what they heard before. Now they see this there will be a lot who will regret not coming."
There were two positive drug tests, embarrassingly including one Indian, walker Rani Yadav, and some athletes, particularly a crop of swimmers, were sick and missed their competition.
Bhanot said it would be the athletes whose opinion really counted because it was for them that the competition was created.