Transcending thresholds

By | Sport
The Welsh Table Tennis squad, including Anna Hursey (right centre) preparing to enter the Commonwealth Games. Credit @walesTT via Twitter.

The Commonwealth Games is soon to commence, and with the competition spanning across twelve days, there may be ample time for athletes to compete at their peak capabilities, and ultimately win. When coupled with the 275 events available, this suggestion seems emphasised, perhaps therefore the prime reason surrounding why over 5,000 athletes compete. Considering the occasion also hosts events from 18 different sports, including ones played predominantly in Commonwealth nations such as bowls and netball, various factors seem to contribute to opportunities being plentiful. As such, the tournament seems a celebration of different events and the varied attributes required for success; this, alongside creating viable pathways into the sport, may be pivotal in ensuring future generations strive to become involved in the event.

The tournament itself seems to possess a fruitful history, having originally been established in 1930, with this perhaps the most prominent reason surrounding its high status. Its history may also make sure it holds an important place in the calendar, with it occurring in the midway point between Olympics. This may ensure athletes enter fully motivated and rested, whilst also providing them with an ample time frame to hone and improve if required. Considering it also extends eligibility to 71 nations, although 53 are in the Commonwealth, boundaries may be bypassed, with all reaping dividends.

With a number of athletes having utilised the opportunity the tournament provides to advance their careers successfully, it seems a fresh batch may be seeking to be similarly impacted. The status of these predecessors may, therefore, play an important role, motivating the current crop to supersede their achievements, and ultimately leading to more competitive encounters. The most prominent example of this may be Anna Hursey, aged 11, who attained a position in the Welsh squad, becoming the youngest representative for the nation in history. Her school seems to have recognised the benefits of this opportunity, providing her with an interlude from her studies to contest for medals, and thus she may be able to solely focus on achieving her goal. Yet, established athletes also seem to be striving to achieve at the games, including Olympian, and world record holder, Adam Peaty. The swimmer, who won multiple medals in Rio, may be able to use the tournament to amass further glories, and ultimately build upon his quest to achieve a sub-57 second swim time. As such, all athletes seem to prioritise competing, with the incentives it provides perhaps ensuring it may soon be considered equal to the Olympics.

Transcending thresholds

Adam Peaty will represent England at the tournament, aiming to build upon his medal tally achieved at previous Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Credit @FTASport via Twitter.

Whilst both of these athletes are British, the four nations of Team GB separate during the tournament, with competitors representing their own country as opposed to the traditional unification. This may potentially impact national pride and solidarity, yet seems to have achieved the opposite effect, with athletes perhaps relishing the fresh prospect. This format also seems to extend opportunities to a wider breadth of people, as more positions seem available due to the larger squads. Therefore, whilst the UK may claim the focus, all nations may be productively impacted by the event, enabling their representatives to showcase the reasoning as to why they warrant a consistent position at the pinnacle.

With the event broadcast on television, alongside websites solely serving to draw attention to the competition, it seems a prominent goal may be to make it easily accessible to the masses. This may ensure wide support, and in celebrating diversity and varying capabilities, it may further resonate with the population. As such, all seem provided with an equal opportunity to triumph, with an array of youngsters, prodigies and experienced veterans, one of whom is entering his eleventh edition, entering the fray. With the recent successes of the Winter Olympics, Paralympics and Olympics in highlighting the benefits of team events and athletics in general, the Commonwealths may have an increasingly pivotal role to play. If it may continue to showcase the benefits of the sport as the debate around Russia continues, it may solely serve to extend its tenure at the forefront of focus.

How might the Commonwealths showcase the benefits of athletics, and therefore unite the sporting world?

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