This is my favorite column by Stuart Weir on each global event. Stuart provides us with the good, the bad and the other of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
In this column, Stuart Weir provides us an example of his very sharp wit, but also his concern for the sport that he loves.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games had 6,500 athletes, coaches, and officials, from 72 countries. Australians were either staying up all night or sleeping in shifts to see how well their athletes did in Birmingham, England.
As Stuart Weir said so well, some events were tremendous, and a few were not so tremendous. But, with 30,000 fans in Alexander Stadium for each and every session, the Commonwealth Games had a much more consistent audience in the stadium than the recent World Championships.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games were a huge success and gave us many things to ponder post-event. Special thanks to Stuart Weir, who wrote 3-5 pieces a day for the Friendly Games.
The good, the bad, and the other
The stadium – the new stadium looked amazing
The crowds – 30,000 at every session morning and evening. Don’t like to mention it but didn’t Oregon struggle to get 10,000 for the Worlds? Many of the crowd were not track and field fans but were attending a range of sports in a multi-sport event; hopefully, they will become track fans.
The atmosphere – so many UK athletes said it was a unique experience to feel that the crowd was totally on their side.
Finals in the morning – some purists moaned on social media about finals taking place in the morning. I loved seeking the men’s 1500 ending a morning session.
Mohamed Ali Hanafiah Muhamed Afiq – The Malaysian sprinter would have been my favorite athlete in the days when I was paid by the word.
Tobi Amusen – everyone knows that it is all because of the shoes and that the timing was wrong in Oregon but Tobi just ignores the noise and runs 12.30 and smiles.
Sprint finish in the men’s 5000 – Jacob Kiplimo, Nicolas Kimeli, and Jabon Krop took the medals with 0.4 seconds separating gold from bronze after 13 minutes.
Transport – there was no parking near the venue, but the slick operation of busing 30,000 people to park and ride parking lots, the local train station, or the city center was one of the great successes of the games.
Pakistan – Arshad Adeem won the Javelin throw with 90.18 from Anderson Peters. We think a first track and field gold for Pakistan.
Gymnast? – Pole-vaulter Adam Hague changed sports from athletics to gymnastics when he lost contact with the pole and did a somersault before landing. He was shaken but continued and took silver
Birmingham did well.
Varying standards – there was some brilliant competition: Eilish v the Kenyans, a men’s1500 with the current and previous world champion, Olympic medalists, etc But to have 17 athletes running for 12 places in the final and ? 18 women long-jumpers competing for 12 final places seemed a nonsense.
Impact – I had thought that the Games had made an impact in the country – until a lady on the train, seeing what I was working on, asked me if we were winning in the Olympics!
Cookies – running out of chocolate cookies in the media work-room.
Missing not in action – the lack of a GB 4X400 relay team because the team management allocated places to other sports.
Villages – having athletes lodge in villages on three separate sites – with teams split of different sites deprived the games of the usual camaraderie.
Para events – It was great to showcase para athletics by including at least 11 para events in the program. I felt that the stadium announcers needed to do a better job of explaining the classifications etc. Where classifications were combined, the “world feed” commentators made an analogy to golf handicap and decathlon points – excellent idea. I suspect the stadium crowd cheered because the athletes were disabled rather than out of a real understanding of what was happening.
The future of the Commonwealth Games – Birmingham took the games on when Durban pulled out. There was discussion on social media of whether an event based on historic British colonialism has a place in the modern world. See you in 4 years in Melbourne.
DQ – The rules are the rules, and an English athlete did step over the line and was correctly disqualified. Euphoria turned to crushing disappointment. It is unsatisfactory that the outcome was only settled about an hour after spectators had gone home celebrating a home victory.
The Scottish Dimension – British athletes compete for England/Scotland /Wates in the Commonwealths. I don’t suppose Asha/Imani/Ashleigh/Bianca/Darryl were particularly aware of running for England rather than Britain but for Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan, winning for Scotland is very significant.
Athlete famous – There was at least one famous athlete in the high jump – Sakari Famous from Bermuda! And if you are looking for memorable names, there was Goodness Nwachukwu from Nigeria. The Indian long-jumper was listed on the start-list as “Sreeshankar SREESGANKAR,” which reminded me of the Manchester United player Eric Demba Demba “so good they named him twice.”
Entry standards – Dianah Matekali Solomon Islands ran a PR in the women’s 5000m in 19.06.80. She was 1 minute 31 seconds behind the athlete in front and 4:28 behind winner Beatrice Chebet. Was it good for her to have the chance to run or an embarrassment?