In a little over three weeks, on 23rd July 2014, the 20th Commonwealth Games will be played out north of the border in Glasgow.
Four and a half thousand athletes will battle over 11 days, competing in 17 featured sports for 261 medal events – a far cry from the original games held in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada where 11 countries sent 400 athletes to take part in six sports and 59 events. The 1930 sports were Athletics, Aquatics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rowing, and Wrestling.
Since then, the Commonwealth Games have been held every four years (except for 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War) and the event has seen many changes, not least in its name. From 1930 to 1950 the Games were known as the British Empire Games, from 1954 until 1966 the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and from 1970 to 1974 they took on the title of British Commonwealth Games. It was the 1978 Games in Edmonton that saw this multi-sports event change its name to the Commonwealth Games.
The Queen's Baton Relay has been making its way across the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth. Held inside the baton is the Queen's message to the Commonwealth, which will be read at the 2014 Opening Ceremony on July 23rd.
Over the years the Commonwealth games have sometimes failed to generate the kind of enthusiasm and support afforded to the Olympic Games, being seen (unfairly) by some as the ‘poor relation.’ However, following the outstanding performances by Team GB in 2012 there is much anticipation and speculation about who we can expect to see competing, and hopefully adding to their medal haul in what promise to be the most avidly supported Commonwealth Games in many years.
With some names still to be confirmed, which of our sporting heroes do we know for sure we’ll be cheering on once again in the coming weeks?
Well, practice your 'MOBOT' as it’s been confirmed that Mo Farah will be competing in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter events, attempting to make history as the first athlete to claim a full set of championship 5,000 and 10,000 metre titles having already won Olympic and European Championship gold.
The six-time Olympic champion's attendance had been in doubt as he continued his rehabilitation from a foot injury.
Hoping to add to his collection of seven Olympic and three Commonwealth medals (not to mention his Tour de France Yellow Jersey), Sir Bradley Wiggins will ride on the track as well as road for Team England. Originally expected to only compete in the road race in Glasgow Wiggins has recently been confirmed that he will now also compete in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
London 2012 double Olympic champion Laura Trott is also looking to complete her set of track cycling medals with a Commonwealth gold. Still only 22 years old Laura has said she will be using her experience in Glasgow to influence her preparation regime for the 2016 Olympics. We will simply be looking to enjoy more stand out performances.
One of our most popular and high profile competitors, Tom Daley will be leading the England diving squad for the Commonwealth Games. As a Commonwealth double gold winner in Delhi four years ago Tom heads up a 15 strong squad which includes Olympic finalists Chris Mears, Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow.
Having already made history as the first ever women’s Olympic champion, Nicola Adams will lead England's challenge in Glasgow as women's boxing now makes its debut at the Commonwealth Games.
Gymnast Louis Smith took individual silver and team bronze medals in 2012 (along with Strictly Come Dancing gold!) and allegedly flirted with the idea of retirement. Thankfully for those of us who appreciate his skills, not to mention that rather attractive torso, his return to training in January put that rumour to bed, and along with the newly crowned European champion Max Whitlock Louis will lead a 13-strong England gymnastics team at the Commonwealth Games.
Injury in 2013 followed Olympic Gold in 2012 for Greg Rutherford. However, a spectacular comeback, culminating in a new British long-jump record earlier this year, means he can set his sights high in Glasgow.
But whilst we can look forward to cheering on these high profile sports stars at the upcoming games, who will be missing, and why?
Well, from making its Commonwealth debut in 2010, tennis has been dropped from the 2014 schedule and along with it Andy Murray’s chance to defend his Commonwealth Championship gold.
Cycling champ, Chris Froome is otherwise engaged, as he attempts to win his second consecutive yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
Sir Chris Hoy is now retired (although he has had the velodrome named after him!) as has Beth Tweddle and Rebecca Adlington. And whilst we congratulate Jessica Ennis-Hill on her pregnancy, her presence will be sorely missed.
However, alongside those who have now become household names, there will undoubtedly be rising stars, and it may well be that it is these hardworking, dedicated newcomers who inject even more excitement into these games (along with Mr Usain Bolt, as the fastest man in the world has just confirmed his attendance!)
Fancy taking up a sport?
We may have crashed out of the World Cup but Andy Murray is currently doing the nation proud at Wimbledon. And with the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, it's the perfect time to catch that 'active' bug and take up a new sport.
Haverhill has plenty of local clubs and associations that cater for all ages and fitness levels. From angling to athletics; bowls to boxing; rugby to swimming; cycling to tennis; if you want to get fitter this summer, simply head to thebestof Haverhill's Local Guide to access a wide range of options.
Please click here to access thebestof Haverhill's Local Guide.
Alternatively, Haverhill Leisure Centre has two swimming pools, a fully equipped fitness studio, numerous exercise classes and more.
Please click here for more information about Haverhill Leisure Centre.
So just remember – you may not be able to reach quite the heights that Mo Farah, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott et al may have attained, but the summer of sport 2014 doesn't have to be totally dominated by the elite!
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