Remote poised to record Games' best

By Dylan Cleaver

A great moment in sporting history. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A great moment in sporting history. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Dylan Cleaver looks at the 10 Commonwealth Games events you don't want to miss.

The 1974 Commonwealth Games 1500m final is still regarded by many athletics gurus as the high-water mark for a championship final. Most Olympic finals tend to be disappointingly slow tactical battles, but not this one, where Filbert Bayi raced to a big lead and stayed there in the greatest display of middle distance front-running ever, followed home by a valiant John Walker, Ben Jipcho and Rod Dixon. Things weren't quite so dramatic in Melbourne 2006. When Australian Craig Mottram fell early and one of the disappointing Kenyan's lost a shoe, it cleared the way for Nick Willis to claim gold.

He's got a puncher's chance this year, too, despite struggling in the past year with injury. Whatever the scenario, this is the race you don't want to miss.

Unless you're a cycling aficionado the points race can be unfathomable and the kierin ridiculous. The pursuits, traditionally New Zealand's strength, have been deemed so spectator unfriendly they've been dropped from the Olympic programme.

Even the sprint can be a little baffling with the cyclists spending most of the first lap stalling and posturing, but there is no ambiguity about the way it finishes - 250m of the angriest, most lung-busting cycling imaginable.

Fiji are unable to take their place after being suspended from the Commonwealth following the 2006 military coup. Still, it's a strong field with England, South Africa and Samoa best placed to prevent New Zealand from winning their fourth consecutive gold medal.

If everything goes to plan, New Zealand will beat England in pool play and will brush aside Jamaica in the semifinals, advancing to a widely predicted gold medal playoff for gold with Australia.

As far as transtasman netball clashes go, this would be a beauty. While silver medals are usually celebrated, this time the team standing on the second step of the dais will feel like losers.

Those who sprinkle chlorine on their cornflakes probably find the heats of the 50m freestyle fascinating, but those who find the swimming events a little bloated should keep their powder dry for the relay finals. Australia will be favoured to win most but in the relays there's always a chance something can go wrong.

The Indians have a proud record in international competition, but they've taken a battering of late with drug scandals tainting the achievements of the national team. Much of the host nation's pride will be built around a strong showing from the strongest competitors. Expect the pressure to show.

Neither the Greeks nor the Romans have had huge input into the day-to-day running of the Commonwealth, so let's embrace their gift to sport. New Zealand has a Greco-Roman specialist, Sam Belkin.

True, there's no Shelly-Ann Fraser, no Asafa Powell and no Usain Bolt. It's not just the cream that's been skimmed off the top but half the bottle of milk. Even if the winner is not a Lightning Bolt, they'll still be lightning fast.

Facetious? Maybe, but with fears over health and safety many athletes will be looking forward to the curtain falling on these Games. For the spectator, they're always a lot more fun than the overblown opening ceremony.

Okay, so it's not much of a contest and the Olympic champion could probably throw left-handed and walk away with a medal. But how often do you get a situation where a Kiwi is an absolute monty for a gold medal in any sport.

- NZ Herald

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