In anticipation of the Track And Field at The Gold Coast 2018, starting tomorrow. We asked you to let us know you’re favourite moments from past Commonwealth Games.
Stay tuned. We’ll be reporting all week on the best action from this edition. Until then, reminisce with these great performances.
The Miracle Mile: Roger Bannister v John Landy (Vancouver 1954)
The late, great Roger Bannister may be best known for his legendary sub 4 minute mile but taking on the only other man to have run sub 4 at the 1954 Commonwealth Games, he showed he was no slouch when it came to championship races. To cap off his annus mirabilis he won the European 1500m a few week later.
The Flying Sikh: Milkha Singh (Cardiff 1958)
Whilst the Games don’t always resonate beyond the Commonwealth, they have the ability to make sporting icons out of competitors from countries within. India’s Milkha Singh won the 400m at the Cardiff Games of 1958 and is a legend there to this day. In 2013 the award winning biographical film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was released and it wasn’t until 2014 that an Indian man won another Commonwealth Gold medal in Track & Field.
Teenage World Record: Marilyn Neufville (Edinburgh 1970)
It’s not often that a teenager breaks a WR but that’s just what happened in the 400m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. Jamaican born 17 year old Marilyn Neufville was raised in Britain and had in fact set a World Indoor Record, when winning the European Indoor 400m title for her adopted country earlier that year, in Vienna. She caused much controversy by deciding to compete for her country of birth in Edinburgh but didn’t let it phase her as she knocked 0.7 from the previous WR, winning the race by a massive 2.5 seconds. Unfortunately I can’t find any video footage of her but I think it’s fair to say that she very well may be the coolest woman to have ever set foot on a track.
On a side note I recently discovered that not only does she live in London but we have mutual friends on Facebook. She may be getting an unexpected visit from The Backstraight Boys someday soon 😊
Gun To Tape World Record: Filbert Bayi (Christchurch 1974)
Putting most Olympic finals to shame, this frontrunning win from Tanzania’s Filbert Bayi is one of the most memorable middle distance races of all time. With crowd favourite John Walker closing in the final stages, Bayi holds on for a Gold Medal and a historic WR.
A Marathon Battle: Rob De Castella v Juma Ikanga (Brisbane 1982)
With the lead swapping place numerous times in the last 2 miles Australia’s home town favourite Rob De Castella finally overcomes the challenge of Tanzania’s Juma Ikanga in this marathon war of attrition. He went on to win the inaugural World title in Helsinki the following year.
Commonwealth Javelin Queen: Tessa Sanderson (Edinburgh 1986)
There was no fiercer rivalry in British athletics than Tessa Sanderson vs Fatima Whitbread. Whilst Coe & Ovett were never best friends, the two Javelin stars were bitter enemies and their feud was a tabloid staple throughout the 80s. Whitbread may have set WR’s and won European and World Golds but Tessa was unbeatable at the Commonwealth Games winning 3 Gold medals over her 25 year career. Add to that the Olympic Big G and it was probably a draw career wise but as you can see from this video a Commonwealth victory can be just as exhilarating and a loss just as devastating as any other major games.
The Greatest Race of All Time (Auckland 1990)
I’m not going to spoil the result for those who haven’t seen it but there isn’t a dull moment for the whole 12 ½ laps. A strong field full of present and future World, Olympic and European Champions meant it was always going to be a fierce competition but a fall near the beginning, taking down two of the favourites, sets in motion a series of events that will have you screaming until the very last sprint finish. Truly one of the greatest races of all time.
A Legend Is Born: Cathy Freeman (Victoria 1994)
Over the years The Commonwealth Games have introduced the world to some of the sports biggest stars. None more so than Cathy Freeman. Her 200m/400m double in Victoria 1994 was the first senior international success for a woman who would go on to become an Olympic icon. It wasn’t without its controversy though. She sparked criticism for carrying the Aboriginal flag alongside Australia’s national flag her lap of honour, after specifically being told not to by team management. Thankfully times have changed and both flags are flown proudly in the stadium here at the Gold Coast in 2018.
Anchor Leg Drama: Women’s 4x400m (Victoria 1994)
Freeman wasn’t finished in Victoria and neither was the controversy. The anchor leg included some of the best 400m runners in the world with Sally Gunnell, Sandie Richards and Fatima Yusuf all joining Cathy in an exhilarating carve up for the medals. The final lap was a thriller but would the result stand???
Paula Breaks Her Track Curse: Paula Radcliffe (Manchester 2002)
There is no bigger cliché in British sport that the ‘plucky loser’. A concept that is not remotely understoof by the rest of the world some of Britain’s biggest ever sporting stars never actually won much, but boy did they try their best. By 2002 Paula Radcliffe’s front running tactics had lead her to multiple Cross Country medals including 3 World Golds but a solitary World silver on the track along with a succession of 4th and 5th finishes had placed had firmly amongst our favourite ‘losers’. That was all about to change. Her sensational Marathon debut in London that spring changed the narrative completely and this 5k win at a home Games against Edith Masai meant that her track curse was over. She of course followed it up with a 10k win at the Europeans and a win another marathon win in Chicago.
Choge Breaks Aussie Hearts: Augustine Choge (Melbourne 2006)
On home ground Australia’s Craig Mottram employed a tactic that has gone out of fashion in recent year. He actually tried to win!!! Giving everything he could in front of a hugely partisan crowd he wasn’t quite able beat Kenya’s Augustine Choge’s tremendous sprint finish. The Games record was smashed and the race is one for the ages.