The Commonwealth Games has survived its critics again. We are so spoiled for big televised sporting events these days that armchair spectators can struggle to find enthusiasm for an event that some say has past its prime.

What is the Commonwealth anyway, they ask? A collection of countries that once comprised the British Empire. They fought as the empire in the World War I but by the time it finished, a century ago this year, empires were exhausted. The "Empire Games" continued and became the Commonwealth Games in due course.

Every four years they come around like the Olympics, except they are not. Not all sports have their champions there. Audiences cannot be sure they are watching the world's best, but in the end it does not really matter.

The Gold Coast put on a glittering festival of sport and every Commonwealth country could follow its own. We did, sharing the winners' joy, the glory of those who gave their all without winning, and the agony of the netball. What happened to the Ferns?


Laurel Hubbard's agony will be remembered, too. The transgender weightlifter was expected to win but her right to compete as a women was questioned by a rival's coach before the contest. She stepped up, she went to lift and reeled away with an elbow injury she said was career-ending.

It is the work athletes do to get to the games that is the real glory. Most of us watching have no idea what it is like to dedicate hours of every day to training hard, repeating tedious exercises to maintain fitness and build to a peak at the right time. It must be lonely, mentally taxing as well, and requiring dietary discipline day in, day out.

To reach a qualifying performance and get to the games is an achievement. Many we have been watching these past two weeks were realising a dream just to be there.

But none seemed content with that. Everyone lining up for an event would have felt a surge of hope and determination to produce the performance they owed themselves, their coach, parents, supporters and the country whose colours they were wearing.

That's the splendour of a Games. Commonwealth, Olympics, it hardly matters. They are always worth it.