Commonwealth Games: Event a big deal - Waddell

By David Leggat

New chef de mission regards Games as essential but Brit champ ‘can’t take it seriously’.

New Zealand's new chef de mission Rob Waddell says the Common-wealth Games are targeted at the Olympics. Photo / Brett Phibbs
New Zealand's new chef de mission Rob Waddell says the Common-wealth Games are targeted at the Olympics. Photo / Brett Phibbs

With the Commonwealth Games only eight weeks away, British Olympic champion cyclist Laura Trott has thrown a light on the future, and the relevance of, the quadrennial event.

Trott, who won two gold medals at the London Olympics two years ago, is clearly not enamoured of the Commonwealth Games.

She and fellow racer and partner Jason Kenny fired potshots at the Commonwealth Games during a British newspaper interview. They reckon the event is "not taken seriously" and is "devalued".

"A lot of people don't even take it seriously," Trott said.

"It's the same with a lot of countries. I went to Delhi [in 2010] as a youngster and there was barely anyone there. It's not the same as a world championships and it's certainly not the same as an Olympic Games."

Within hours, Trott, presumably with some official prompting, had changed her tune - "I was not criticising the Commonwealth Games in any way at all. It is a fantastic event" - claiming she was only talking about cycling, where strong nations such as Germany and France won't be competing. That sport is expected to be a medal-fest decided by riders from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the British nations.

If placing the Olympics, Commonwealths and individual world champs in a pecking order purely in terms of the calibre of competition, the Commonwealths would sit third.

There's no argument about that, but the event still has a role and performs an important function in international sport.

New Zealand's new chef de mission, former Olympic rowing champion Rob Waddell, doesn't share Trott's thinking, and says for this country the Games sports fall into three categories.

"It is preparation for targeted sports going to the Olympics and having a chance of doing well. It is pretty essential Games time preparation," Waddell said.

He said for athletes whose sports are on the Olympic programme, but are not among the higher profile within New Zealand, it's a particularly important event.

"And it's really important for sports like squash and netball, which aren't at the Olympics. This is it. How many people play netball and squash? It's their pinnacle event, a big deal and we're excited by that."

With a New Zealand team of 200 likely to go to Glasgow, some will be in sports shorn of the world's leading nations. Not all of them, however.

"Australian swimmers or British cyclists might be the current world champion, so it will vary among sports," Waddell said.

The Gold Coast will host the 2018 Games, but there are concerns over the funding of future events, and the limited number of locations which can host it. Waddell likes what he has seen of Glasgow's plans. It is made up of 70 per cent existing facilities and 30 per cent legacy, to be used in ways to benefit the city.

"It's been done in quite a smart way," he said. "We have every confidence it looks like being a well-organised Games."

564 The total of Commonwealth Games medals New Zealand has won since the inaugural Empires Games, in 1930.
130 gold medals.
189 silver medals.
245 bronze medals.
600 Number of medals New Zealand will finish with if it matches its haul at Delhi in 2010.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 02 Oct 2014 13:25:54 Processing Time: 468ms