Teamwork makes the dream work

RIATH AL SAMARRAI: The Commonwealth Video games have been enjoyable, nevertheless it wants extra stars to outlive

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There are charming quirks and pleasant tales wherever you flip on the Commonwealth Video games. The most effective of them was first off within the biking time trial in Wolverhampton’s West Park at noon on Thursday.

The chap’s identify is Chris Symonds, a 48-year-old driving for Ghana. The place his story is somewhat completely different comes from his day job — he works as a doorman on the Home of Commons, has performed for 20 years. As he says: ‘Your MP would know me.’

It’s straightforward to like all that. Those that watch sport via the slim lens of wins and medals are lacking an terrible lot of the enjoyable. 

Adam Peaty has been a star attraction on the Commonwealth Video games in Birmingham

They miss Symonds speaking of a coaching regime that features his 12-mile each-way commute to Westminster; they miss the 47-year-old bike owner from Walsall, Jim Horton, who now’s an immigration officer within the Falklands and was driving for them right here. He noticed Mark Cavendish the opposite day and was buzzing. It is beautiful stuff.

And but, it’s tempting to return to what Symonds says in regards to the MPs. They know him, however how a lot do we all know of so many on the centre of this £800m occasion within the midlands?

There are round 6,500 athletes at these Commonwealth Video games. The problem there’s a easy one: for all of the absorbing sport, robust crowds and ambiance, what number of of these opponents are you able to identify? 

There are the simple ones: Adam Peaty, Geraint Thomas, Laura Kenny, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Laura Muir, Cavendish and Keely Hodgkinson are essentially the most outstanding from the house nations.

Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is in Birmingham but not competing at the Games

Jamaican dash star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is in Birmingham however not competing on the Video games

Then you possibly can go for Emily Campbell, that drive of nature breaking data within the weightlifting. Or Eilish McColgan, returning the ten,000m title to a well-known household. From additional afield, there may be Chad le Clos or Elaine Thompson-Herah, the five-time Olympic champion and arguably one of the best sprinter of any gender on the earth.

However who subsequent? There isn’t any Dina Asher-Smith, no Tom Daley, no Max Whitlock — respectively injured, campaigning and commentating. Extra curiously there’s the case of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican winner of 23 main sprinting medals. She’s right here however not right here in that she is on the Video games, however solely to organize for a modest meet in Italy.

And that is a major problem. Not within the instant sense as a result of greater than 1,000,000 tickets have been bought for these Video games, with 30,000 at every of the 12 periods of athletics alone. 

The ambiance on the Alexander Stadium on Wednesday, when McColgan received gold and hugged her mom Liz, was nearly as good as any at a observe on this nation since Tremendous Saturday in 2012.

The crowds have been strong in Birmingham with more than a million tickets sold

The crowds have been robust in Birmingham with greater than 1,000,000 tickets bought

The problem comes from what occurs subsequent, as a result of these outdated Video games are already a creaking, wood ship in a contemporary storm — it’s only in Birmingham in any respect is as a result of Durban pulled out as hosts. 

The sporting calendar has by no means been so frenzied, the staging of massive occasions has by no means been so costly, and essentially the most bankable method of promoting these gigs to broadcasters and governments is the lure of star names — athletes with recognisable faces you possibly can placed on a poster or advert.

That so few are in Birmingham shall be a fear for the Video games at some extent after they combat for his or her place within the order, with no rush of bidders to stage the 2030 occasion. They’re having fun with the current however with vital nervousness in regards to the future. 

Athlete indifference, and from there the sight of weakened competitors, is much more damaging than no matter chin-stroking we do in regards to the problematic connotations of the Commonwealth and what it represents.

The atmosphere at the Alexander Stadium on Wednesday, when Eilish McColgan won gold was as good as any

The ambiance on the Alexander Stadium on Wednesday, when Eilish McColgan received gold was nearly as good as any

Among the fields right here have underlined that time — 16 of the 42 medals out there within the inventive gymnastics went to England. One of many para-cycling races featured solely 4 riders. Among the athletics disciplines have been of decrease high quality than the British Championships, which itself is not any barometer of greatness.

The stability is that the swimming options some powerhouse nations, as does the hockey, and that is grandest stage on which netball and squash seem within the absence of Olympic inclusion.

But when this enjoyable platform is to proceed, it wants extra. Greater than a handful of aggressive sports activities. Greater than marvellous tales of the underdog. What it wants is a number of extra stars.

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