The Games we play
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You may ask why India should at all get excited and see dividend in an event that, when it first began in 1930, was once known as the British Empire Games, and which continues to feature sports like lawn bowls and rugby sevens played mostly by members of the "white" Commonwealth. Here's why.
Leave aside the origins and other peculiarities and you will find that the Commonwealth Games (CWG) are the third biggest multi-disciplinary sporting event in the world, after the Olympics and Asian Games. So they are by no means insignificant in the hierarchy of major global sporting events.
Second, and this is important in the context of Indian sport, we perform rather well in the CWG, much better than we do at the Olympics or even the Asian Games. Consider the final medals tally for the 2006 CWG in Melbourne. India, with 22 gold medals, finished fourth, with Australia heading the tally. Importantly, we finished ahead of countries like South Africa, Jamaica and Kenya which routinely perform better than us at the Olympics. Incidentally, an Indian sportsman, the shooter Samresh Jung, was named as the best sportsman of the 2006 CWG (with five gold medals). Contrast this with our performance at the Beijing Olympics where we won just one gold medal, or with the 2006 Asian Games where we won only 10 gold medals and finished eighth on the medals tally.
In fact, at the Asian Games, our performance has been declining over time. When we hosted the first ever Asian Games in 1951, we finished second in the overall medals tally. In 1982, when we hosted the Asiad for a second time, we finished fifth on table with 13 gold medals. At the CWG, on the other hand, our performance has improved over time; in 1982, we had finished only sixth on table with six gold medals. That we perform well gives us some credibility while hosting the CWG, something we would be sorely lacking if we wanted to host an Olympics.
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