21st Games take place on the Gold Coast
BY ADAM BLACKSHAW
On the eve of the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, our new curated collection features highlights from previous Games held in Australia.
Australia has hosted the most Games: Sydney in 1938 (the first to be staged in the southern hemisphere), Perth (1962), Brisbane (1982) and Melbourne (2006). Australia is also the most successful nation, having won the most medals in the history of the event.
Despite sometimes being seen as second to the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games has witnessed many great moments, including the famous 'Miracle Mile' in 1954 when both England’s Roger Bannister and Australia's John Landy broke the magical four-minute mile. But even before then, the Games saw extraordinary performances from athletes such as Australia's Decima Norman who won five gold medals at the 1938 Games held in Sydney.
As can be seen in this clip of Decima winning the 110 yards sprint, her running style was unorthodox but clearly effective:
Aside from memorable performances by legendary athletes, the Games are also noted for the spectacle of their opening ceremonies. But they have not always gone off without a hitch!
The opening of the 1962 Empire and British Games in Perth took place in blistering 40-degree heat. More than 300 people in the crowd of 53,000 at the Perry Lakes Stadium were treated for heat exhaustion, plus there were a few heart attacks. Children performing in the ceremony started collapsing and soldiers had to ferry water to hydrate those still standing. The temperature barely dropped throughout the competition leading commentators to label the Games 'heat, dust and glory'.
More recently many will fondly remember the Opening Ceremony of the 1982 Games in Brisbane. The start of the ceremony was signalled with a kookaburra call, followed by the familiar Australian cry of 'cooee'. Then 6,500 school children ran into position to create the Australian flag, the Games logo and a map of Australia (minus Tasmania!). But the stand-out was Matilda, the giant kangaroo that toured the stadium and winked cheekily at Prince Philip: