Another lap!

Another lap!

The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind the Medals

by Brian Oliver

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.

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Bernard Whimpress

Bernard Whimpress

Bernard Whimpress is a writer, historian, and former curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum. A member of the Australian Society for Sports History, Bernard has written twenty books mainly on sport, including The Official MCC Ashes Treasures, Passport to Nowhere: Aborigines in Australian Cricket 1850–1939, The Greatest Ashes Battles and as co-author The History of Australian Cricket. He published and edited the Australian cricket journal Baggy Green from 1998 to 2010.

Published in August 2014 no. 363

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