On Sunday evening Glasgow officially closed the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Having hosted numerous sporting successes and making productive steps forwards in the world of sport, there have been many highlights to this years games.
Historically the Commonwealth Games has often marked significant steps forward in sporting equality and inclusivity, and this year’s Games followed suit. Continuing in the direction set out by the 2012 Olympics the Glasgow games have similarly featured women’s boxing for the first time, with gold again being won by England’s Nicola Adams, who clinched victory in a hotly contested bout with Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh. Meanwhile the Games’ heritage of inclusivity continued as disabled athletes were again included within their national teams, a practice begun with the 2002 Manchester Games. Among the successes of these events England’s David Weir added another feather to his already considerable cap, with victory in the T54 1500m earning the Paralympian his first Commonwealth gold. The recipient of six Paralympic gold medals, including four at London 2012, Weir’s titanic strength came to the fore as he powered clear of his competitors on the home straight to win with a time of 3 minutes 21.67 seconds.
Accompanying Weir’s success on the track, England’s sprinters took home medals in the relay events. Matthew Hudson-Smith, competing at his first major senior championship, overcame the efforts of the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago to take first place and the gold medal in the final leg of the men’s 4 x 400m. Picking up the baton in second, Hudson-Smith charged past Zwede Hewitt of Trinidad & Tobago to take first place before digging deep to hold off the challenge of Bahamian Chris Brown and win by just 0.05 seconds. Visibly overawed, Hudson-Smith joined teammates Conrad Williams, Michael Bingham and Daniel Awde on the podium to take home a Commonwealth gold in his first major outing as part of the quartet. The 4 x 400m gold was almost matched by England’s 4 x 100m team, who came away with silver after a final leg from sprinting behemoth Usain Bolt won gold for Jamaica in characteristically emphatic fashion. England were led off by promising 20 year old Adam Gemili, who had already won silver in the individual 100m and at last years World Championships became only the second Briton (after John Regis) and third teenager (after Alonso Edward and fellow 4 x 100 runner Bolt) to run the 200m in under 20 seconds. Lining up alongside Jamaica, Gemili made notable gains on his Jamaican counterpart through the bend, and the efforts of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Richard Kilty gave England anchor Danny Talbot a marginal lead going into the home straight. Talbot, however, was unable to hold off the charge of Bolt, whose confident final leg gifted Jamaica the gold medal and Commonwealth record.
While Bolt continued his scintillating form on the track England’s Tom Daley did the same in the pool, taking home an individual gold in the men’s 10m diving and, almost more impressively, silver in the 10m synchronised after just a week of training with partner James Denny. Daley ran away with the 10m solo event, with his final score of 516.55 leaving a staggering 82.85 gap between him and second-placed Malaysian Ooi Tze Liang, to win his third Commonwealth gold. He was joined in the final by 14 year old Matt Dixon, whose ninth-placed finish is surely a sign of good things to come for the talented teenager. Meanwhile another England success story maintained his winning ways, with long jumper Greg Rutherford overcoming fitness concerns to take gold with a jump of 8.20m.
As Scotland hand over to Australia, who will host the 2018 games in Gold Coast, they end what have been a profoundly successful Games, continuing the proud and progressive tradition of the Commonwealth Games and playing host to over 140 Commonwealth records being broken. England topped the medals table for the first time since 1986 and, even more significantly, with a combined home nations total of 275 medals (including 84 golds) the prospects for Team GB come Rio 2016 are exceedingly promising.
Whose form at the Commonwealth Games makes them potential stars for Rio 2016?