Thursday 24 July 2014

Medal Quest : A (Common)Wealth of Athletes

The Commonwealth Games began last night with a spectacular opening ceremony (not as spectacular as originally planned after the demolition of 2 big city apartment blocks as part of the ceremony was dropped). 

I wasn’t expecting an Olympic-scale ceremony like we saw in Melbourne 2006 or the Bollywood spectacular of Delhi 2010, but Glasgow provided a modest ceremony with a surprisingly high visible lgbt content, right from the opening sequence with John Barrowman singing about the legacy of Scottish inventions and culture (complete with gay wedding and a gay kiss) all the way the entrance of the games flag, led by the recently out swimming superstar Ian Thorpe who received a huge cheer. Taking the Melbourne opening ceremony as inspiration the athlete's parade was split into continental sections, something the Olympic should think of to get rid of their interminably bland parade.

Unlike the London Olympics the BBC brought out a huge array for past sporting stars for the opening night’s coverage, including Ian Thorpe again in their pre-ceremony warm-up. It showed the Commonwealth that this may not be the Olympics but it still has the biggest stars in sport in the world. The likes of Usain Bolt, Tom Daley and Mo Farah, and many other Olympic medallists will compete, though one sad absentee, for obvious reasons, will be Oscar Pistorius. 

The Commonwealth Games offers athletes the chance to compete in an Olympic-style event and for those of us who live in a Commonwealth nation winning a Commonwealth Games medal is as big a prize as winning an Olympic one. Some athletes, though, are not fortunate enough to be able to compete at both games as some sports (e.g. squash, lawn bowls and netball) are not yet part of the Olympic programme. Many lgbt Olympians first got their taste of international medal glory at the Commonwealth Games and many may do so in Glasgow. 

Less than a week ago the governing body of the Commonwealth Games showed how outdated their rules on gender are. An Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, the Indian 100 meter champion no less, was banned from competing because she had a naturally high level of testosterone which, they say, put her at an advantage over other female athletes. International sporting bodies, not just the Commonwealth Games, continue to dither and procrastinate over what to do about the inclusion of non-binary gender athletes. 

Here is a list of the lgbt athletes at the Commonwealth Games. The name of the athlete is followed by the nation and sport, then by the games and medals (if any). Athletes competing in the current games are also noted. It comes as no surprise that swimming superstar Ian Thorpe tops the Commonwealth lgbt medal list with a total of 11.

Nicola Adams            England           boxing
2014 Glasgow (Sco.) 

Alyson Annan           Australia          hockey
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.) 

Raelene Boyle           Australia          athletics
1970 Edinburgh (Sco.)            3 gold
1974 Christchurch (NZ)          3 gold
1978 Edmonton (Can.)           1 silver
1982 Brisbane (Aus.)              1 gold, 1 silver 

Kris Burley    Canada           gymnastics
1994 Victoria (Can.)                1 gold, 2 silver
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.)      1 silver 

Scott Cranham          Canada           diving
1974 Christchurch (NZ)          1 silver, 1 bronze
1978 Edmonton (Can.)           1 silver, 1 bronze 

Tom Daley     England           diving
2010 Delhi (Ind.)         2 gold
2014 Glasgow (Sco.) 

Greg Duhaime           Canada           athletics
1982 Brisbane (Aus.)              1 bronze 

Michelle Ferris          Australia          cycling
1994 Victoria (Can.)
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.) 

Mathew Helm            Australia          diving
2002 Manchester (Eng.)
2006 Melbourne (Aus.)           2 gold 

Daniel Kowalski        Australia          swimming
1994 Victoria (Can.)                1 silver, 1 bronze
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.)      1 gold, 2 bronze 

Marion Lay     Canada           swimming
1966 Kingston (Jam.)             2 gold, 1 silver 

Matthew Mitcham     Australia          diving
2006 Melbourne (Aus.)
2010 Delhi (Ind.)                     4 silver
2014 Glasgow (Sco.) 

Helen Richardson-Walsh     England           hockey
2002 Manchester (Eng.)         1 silver
2006 Melbourne (Aus.)
2010 Delhi (Ind.)                     1 bronze

Kate Richardson-Walsh       England           hockey
2002 Manchester (Eng.)         1 silver
2006 Melbourne (Aus.)  
2010 Delhi (Ind.)                     1 bronze
2014 Glasgow (Sco.) 

Craig Rogerson        Australia          diving
1986 Edinburgh (Sco.)            1 gold, 1 bronze
1990 Auckland (NZ)               1 gold 

Beth Storry                England           hockey
2006 Melbourne (Aus.)
2010 Delhi (Ind.)                     1 bronze 

Mark Tewksbury       Canada           swimming
1986 Edinburgh (Sco.)            2 gold
1990 Auckland (NZ)               2 gold 

Ian Thorpe     Australia          swimming
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.)      4 gold
2002 Melbourne (Aus.)           6 gold, 1 silver 

Lisa-Marie Vizaniari              Australia          athletics
1990 Auckland (NZ)               1 gold
1994 Victoria (Can.)                1 bronze
1998 Kuala Lumpar (Mal.)      1 silver

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