Everything you need to know about the Commonwealth Games

Sally Pearson at the Commonwealth Games
Sally Pearson competing in the hurdles. Photo: filip bossuyt, Wikimedia Commons

If you aren’t sure what the Commonwealth Games actually is, it’s an international sporting competition similar to the Olympics, except only the countries that Australia beats are invited.

History of the Commonwealth Games

Starting as the Empire Games in 1930 before rebranding to Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954 and just Commonwealth Games in 1970, the event has been held every four years except for during World War Two.

The 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth of Nations compete, including India, South Africa and New Zealand. The nations that make up the UK compete as their own teams, as do British dependencies such as Gibraltar.

With Olympic heavyweights USA, China and Russia not part of the Commonwealth, and the UK broken up into its constituent nations, Australia typically does very well.

Australia has been the most successful country, topping the medal count 12 times to England’s 7 and Canada’s 1. England came first in Glasgow in 2014, although they haven’t won outside the UK since 1966. Australia also tops both the tallies for total gold medals, with 852, and overall medals, with 2218.

Gold Coast 2018

Next week the Commonwealth Games come to the Gold Coast, with the Opening Ceremony taking place on April 4. 70 teams will take part, representing countries that comprise about 30% of the world’s population.

6,600 athletes will descend on the Gold Coast, although some events will take place in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.

The event will cover 18 sports and 7 para sports. 3 sports will make their debut at the games, in Beach Volleyball, Women’s Rugby Sevens and Para Triathlon. For the first time there will be equal numbers of men’s and women’s events.

The Australian hopefuls

Sally Pearson will lead the Australian athletics contingent, chasing her third successive hurdles title at her fourth consecutive games. Dani Stevens should medal in the discus, and Morgan Mitchell will be one to watch in the women’s 100m.

The Olympic champion women’s rugby sevens team will be chasing another gold medal. The Diamonds will also be hot favourites in the netball. Beach volleyball is another sport that Australia historically does well in.

Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams will be strong contenders. The Kookaburras have just won their 11th six nation tournament, beating many of their main rivals on the way.

Australia has always dominated in the pool, and will be sending a formidable contingent to the Gold Coast. Featuring Olympic heroes Mack Horton, the Campbell sisters and Kyle Chalmers, the swimming will be well worth getting tickets to. In the absence of team USA, Australia should win plenty of medals.