What a great refreshing change it is, to be able to get into the Commonwealth Games, and into some different sport. The same old stuff we get fed year-round is okay but getting a chance to catch up with some other sports, and all the other great athletes, is awesome.

Who cares that it isn't the Olympics? In some ways it is better. It has more of a community sport feel about it, watching all these brilliant sportspeople, hopefully not as many drug cheats, and not coming up against the giants of Asia, Eastern Europe, America, means we get to see more real New Zealanders out there competing who we otherwise never hear about.

There's been inspiration for all of us, young and old, and all backgrounds. A great mix of our Kiwi cultures represented, and some great Paralympian exploits as well.

It's been great for some oldies seeing the sport they have been dedicated to for years getting some limelight, and there will be loads of youngsters inspired to give sport a go, or to try a new sport they've now seen on TV.


The athletics field events have continued their rise (especially after their great pre-games camp here in Hawke's Bay).

Tom Walsh hung on under pressure, and Julia Ratcliffe with her stunning hammer throw gold, and hopefully last night some great results for Dame Valerie and the pole-vaulting girls Eliza McCartney and Olivia McTaggart.

David Liti's massive weightlifting gold in the heavy weight division was fantastic, he even found the time to blow the judges a kiss. Sophie Pascoe inspired so many with her performances in the pool. Lawn bowls inspired young and old (especially the old).

The track cycling was riveting, resulting in about 33% more lycra-clad bikies out on the roads I drive on every day. Mountain biking too: gold, silver, and nearly bronze (don't mention the in-team bitching after the race). Soon we'll have a champ out of Wairoa now it has a cool new track up there – go Wairoa.

Beach volleyball, it is now officially a serious sport after the O'Dea boys took out a bronze against the English (always good beating the English, even in tiddlywinks). And the squash, holy cow, what an epic final that was. The English girl lifted the aggression toward the end of the final set, but Joelle King didn't back off, and showed great Kiwi grit to secure the gold.

Netball captain Katrina Grant should never have her commitment to the silver fern questioned, that was sad, the Kiwis will always give 100% in a big match like that. But something is going on with the netball. Perhaps we have lost sight of what it is all about, it should be a simple game. Maybe the backroom analysis and computer KPIs have gone haywire – too much focus on fitness, not enough on game.

Bailey Mes fits the mould, as fit as hell I am sure, and ticks all the boxes on the spreadsheet. But what about the likes of Cath Tuivaiti (nee Latu)? Is there still room for a character like her? She seems to have been cast aside.

So the England netball team gave us a good beating on Wednesday night, but on Thursday we regained our pride in the women's Black Sticks semifinal against England.

Finally they won a shootout, and are through to the final. And what an awesome shootout it was. Sam Harrison calmly slotted a turn at goal to make it 1-1. Grace O'Hanlon, who had just come on as keeper, brought some serious intensity to the situation, and made four brilliant saves, the first one with her face – good commitment.

And then, with it still locked up, and with the final shot in regulation, come on down Stacey Michelsen. After all the previous nine shooters from both sides had dribbled and snivelled around the keeper, Stacey who should have been feeling all the pressure in the world, rolls straight up to the keeper and makes an outrageous lob over the hapless Englishwoman's head, into the net for the most sublime finish to the game, rubber stamping herself as one of New Zealand's absolute best athletes.

Here's hoping all the athletes have a great finish to the campaign, and those two women's teams, netball and hockey, can finish on a high.

* Marcus Agnew is the health and sport development manager at Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust and a lecturer in sports science at EIT.