While the Commonwealth Games bring with them a wave of enthusiasm, patriotism, glory and thrill among the people, there are many still who don’t know how and when the Games came into being. The idea of a sports tournament to amalgamate the nations of the British Empire has been discussed about since the 1890s. Reverend Astley Cooper is recognised for first putting forward this idea in 1891 in an article in The Times newspaper, proposing a “Pan-British-Pan-Anglican Contest and festival taking place after every four years as a way of augmenting the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire”.
Ultimately, this postulation was overshadowed by that of the Modern Olympic Games, the first of which took place in 1896, and the idea of the Pan-British-Pan-Anglican games was set aside for the time. Now, let’s talk about how the term “Commonwealth” was coined and how the Commonwealth Games came into existence. Just as the British Empire commenced with the decolonisation and the formation of sovereign states from the preceding British Colonies, it gave rise to a need for an alliance of the countries that were formerly a part of the British Empire.
In 1884, Lord Rosebery, an English Politician, pronounced the transforming British Empire as a “Commonwealth of Nations”. Consequently, the British Commonwealth of Nations was established in the year 1931, under the statute of Westminster . This Commonwealth initially comprised of five upholders, namely, The United Kingdom, Canada, the Irish Free State, Newfound Land, and the Union of South Africa. In the year 1946, the term “British” was dropped and the establishment came to be recognised as simply the “Commonwealth of Nations”. With several adjustments being made to the statute over the years, the C ommonwealth presently consists of 54 member countries,
In the year 1911, an Inter-Empire championship took place in London as a part of the “Festival of Empire” to commemorate the enthronement of King George V. Teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom took part in this championship and contended against each other in sporting events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming, and athletics. The winning country, i.e. Canada, was awarded with a 2 feet 6 inches high trophy, a silver cup.
In August 1930, Hamilton City hosted the British Empire Games wherein an aggregate of 400 participants from 11 different teams taking part in six sports wherein only diving and swimming were open to both male and female athletes and events in athletics, boxing, bowls, rowing, and wrestling were open to males only. However, since then till today, the progress of the Games has seen some significant changes. The name has undergone an evolution between 1930 and now. Since they were originally known as The British Empire Games, followed by the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, before the present title, The Commonwealth Games made its first appearance in 1978.
It’s not just the name of the event that has undergone the many changes over the years, the content of the Games has also come a long way, with the event now comprising of triathlon, rugby, judo, boxing, basketball, hockey, tennis, table-tennis, swimming, badminton, chess, gymnastics, shooting, wrestling, weightlifting, cycling, athletics, The Commonwealth Games present a definite case study about the progression and transformation in sport over the years, and with their nature of being a grand event that now manages to attract over 7,000 contenders.
Talking about the present-day Commonwealth Games, India is currently a contender in the 2018 Commonwealth Games being held at Gold Coast, Australia, from 4th to 15th April. There are about 215 competitors in total who are representing India in the following sports: Athletics, Basketball, Boxing, Cycling, Gymnastics, Hockey, Lawn Bowls, Shooting, Squash, Swimming, Table Tennis, Weightlifting, Wrestling, and Parasports. The Games have begun and the nation has great hopes from the 215 member athletic squad to take the name of the nation to greater heights in the quadrennial games.
In the previous three editions of the Games, the Indian contingent has accumulated about 215 medals in total- 50 in 2006, 101 in 2010, and 64 in 2014, and has already won 17 medals in the 2018 Games, and therefore, it is not surprising to see the fans brimming with excitement and high hopes considering the fact that this time, a much larger and more successful pool of athletes is playing for the country.
Badminton, Boxing, Shooting, and weightlifting are a few disciplines where a profuse haul of medals is expected. Here are some super-talented athletes that the fans are counting on to bring glory to the nation:
• PV SINDHU (BADMINTON) :
Sindhu’s victory could be under threat against Michelle Li and Kristy Glamour who were proud recipients of gold and silver medals respectively, in the former Games. Sindhu, however, was honoured with the award for joint Badminton Player of the Year at TOISA (Times of India Sports Awards) 2018; she won India a bronze in the Games in Glasgow in 2014, and a silver at the Rio Olympics . The fans have no doubts that she’ll be up for a Gold at Gold Coast.
• SAKSHI MALIK (WRESTLING) :
Malik made her first appearance in the Games four years ago in Glasgow, where she won a silver, and two years later at the Rio Olympics she was announced as the first Indian Female Wrestler to ever win a medal. Fans have full faith in her abilities to make India proud in Gold Coast.
• MC MARY KOM (BOXING) :
She’s accomplished a lot over the years, however, she’s missing Gold at the Commonwealth Games from her outstanding collection from all across the world. She claimed her 1st Gold Medal at the Asian Boxing Championships by defeating Hyang Mi Kim in the 48 kg final last year. The nation is counting on her.
• SAINA NEHWAL (BADMINTON) :
Even though Sindhu may have diverted some attention from her as the leading female badminton player from India, Saina continues to remain a threat to the best. She won a bronze at the World Championships in 2017, a Grand Prix Gold and her 3rd National title. She appears to be a serious competition for distinction and recognition.
• JITU RAI (SHOOTING) :
Shooting is one such sport wherein India has some serious lineage at Commonwealth Games. The country has won about 56 Gold medals in aggregate and India has been proven right to lay its hopes on Jitu Rai for yet another gold at Gold Coast. Jitu won 4 gold medals and one bronze at ISSF shooting events and 2 bronze medals at the Commonwealth Shooting events.
• KIDAMBI SRIKANTH (BADMINTON) :
After winning unrivalled 4 supersedes titles on 2017, the TOISA Sportsperson of the Year award winner, Srikanth made it big last year winning the Indonesia Open, Australian Open, Denmark Open and French Open and moved up to the second spot in thE BWF men’s singles rankings. Srikanth has come a long way as an athlete and is all set to bring glory to the nation at Gold Coast.
• ARUNA BUDDA REDDY (GYMNASTICS) :
Aruna marked her name in the pages of history by becoming the first India Gymnast to ever secure an individual medal at the Gymnastics World Cup in Melbourne. She carries on her the hopes of many to bring glory to the nation, yet again. She won her first National medal in 2005, after which she participated in World Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2017 in Antwerp, Nanning, and Montreal respectively.
• SUSHIL KUMAR (WRESTLING) :
Double Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar would aim for a golden hat-trick. Sushil secured the top position in the former two editions and would be competing in the 74 kg freestyle category. Sushil has great experience on his side and the Commonwealth Games generally have a relatively weaker level of competition. The Gold he won at the 2017 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship is a prime example of the same. Hence, another gold is very much in sight.