The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind the Medals
Bloomsbury, $29.99 pb, 210 pp, 9781472907325
The Commonwealth Games, like the Commonwealth of Nations, often seem irrelevant. I intended to declare my bias in this review when I found author Brian Oliver saying the same thing on the first page of his introduction. But, as the author points out, the Games have survived the political, cultural, and sporting odds for more than eighty years and have a rich sporting history.
In explaining his reasons for writing The Commonwealth Games, Oliver states: ‘it was a challenge, because nobody in Britain had done so before and because … there were a great many untold stories worth telling.’ One of the author’s main claims (and that of some respondents) is that the Commonwealth Games are the ‘Friendly Games’, in contrast with the nationalism associated with the Olympics. Surely, though, this contention is dubious, especially in Australia, where, as former national athletics coach and academic John Daly has written, ‘our national sport is winning’. Medal tallies are taken seriously by athletes, the mass media, and a large proportion of sports followers.