With the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi so close, it’s time to look at the potential winners and losers, victors and failures, triumphs and tragedies of this colorful and exciting sporting event.
Ten Triumphs and Tragedies:
- The continued rise of England as a world sporting power; You can’t throw that much money, recruit that many talented coaches and hire that many sports industry professionals, plus host a home Olympics and not be a powerful performer two years out from your major goal. For England not to dominate the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi would be a major embarrassment for their Government, their National Sporting Organisations and the leaders of their high performance sporting programs. They will be very strong and the Commonwealth should be prepared for their Dominance in Deli!;
- The decline of Australia as a world sporting power; As a proud Australian myself, this is the last thing I would like to see but….the Australian Performance Clock is at 3 O’Clock and the future looks bleak. There will be the odd flashes of brilliance, a few medals in Swimming, Tennis looking strong, Netball, Hockey and Cycling will be as competitive as always but look for a huge decline in the number of “Golds” and a wipe-out in terms of the total number of medals won;
- The re-emergence of Canada as a world sporting power; Following on from the great success of the “Own the Podium” Program and the outstanding results in the Winter Olympics earlier this year, watch for Canada to show some signs in the Summer sports that their focus and investment in high performance is starting to return real dividends;
- Losers blaming the conditions in Delhi for their failure; Everyone has to face the same conditions in Delhi: the same challenges, the same traffic issues, the same food issues, the same climate issues….and every nation, team, coach and athlete knew exactly what these issues would be for the past four years. If you lose in Delhi, you just weren’t good enough – it is not Delhi’s fault – it’s yours;
- At least one security scare; Sad, horrific and tragic but true – security will be a bigger issue than most people will admit. The modern Games environment is a security nightmare for everyone involved. Let’s hope that security is outstanding in Delhi and that every athlete, coach, manager, fan, supporter and member of the public safely enjoys what should be fantastic event without the added challenge of terrorism, political fear campaigns or religious based violence;
- At least one doping offence in the sports of weightlifting and athletics; Get over it folks – the drug designers, the drug developers and the drug sellers have been a step ahead of WADA and the drug testing agencies for the past 40 years and it ain’t about to change. It is only a matter of which athlete and what sport will be the first to make headlines in Delhi;
- The miracle that is Jamaican Sprinting to continue; How a nation with such a small population and small land mass can continue to dominate world sprinting is a sporting miracle and it shows no signs of abating – with or without the Lightning Bolt;
- Several athletes who will perform poorly then proclaim “but I had a great time and really enjoyed the experience”; Sport at participation level is about fun, enjoyment, passion, health, fitness and all that warm, cuddly stuff but at Games level it is about one thing and one thing only….winning. Nations do not spend tens of millions of dollars preparing athletes to go to Delhi just so they can relax and enjoy a few Vindaloos and Poppadoms. You are there to win – or don’t go;
- Numerous sports administrators and politicians will be asked “so do you believe the Commonwealth Games are relevant and important in this century“; The most predictable question for any journalist to ask a sporting administrator before, during and after the Delhi Games will be to justify the existence of the Commonwealth Games itself. And just as predictable will be the “spin” responses:“the Commonwealth Games is even more important now that it has ever been” and “The Commonwealth Games promotes international co-operation and world wide harmony through the glory of sport” blah blah blah – predictable answers to a very predictable question so why ask it in the first place?;
- The home nation – India – will do better than at any previous Commonwealth Games; Hosting a major Games should give the host nation a significant advantage. Familiarity with climate, food and conditions, no need for international travel, surrounded by family and friends plus the performance enhancement impact of nationalism….a home Games is worth a minimum of an extra twenty Commonwealth Games medals to the host nation. But a word of warning to our Indian friends and colleagues…..hosting a Games can also increase the pressure and expectations on athletes, teams and coaches and under that pressure many will fail. To the athletes, teams and coaches who have prepared to perform well in Delhi, the weeks ahead will be full of some of the most wonderfully fulfilling moments of their lives.
So, gazing into your own Crystal Ball, Belly-button, Magic-beans or Tea leaves, what do you think will be the highlights and low-lights of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010?