From the Olympics to the Commonwealth Games, people across the nation see athletes achieving great things on TV in their sports and it inspires them. While the London 2012 Olympics was in full swing local councils saw an increase of 44% in people using sports facilities, including 36% of councils seeing more people using the public swimming pools. A great achievement for the sport, I think you will agree and promising for Britain’s future as kids can see talent right on their front door step. So surely the 2014 Commonwealth Games should have the same effect?
Ask anyone to name the biggest multi-game international event and the Olympics will come up many more times than the Commonwealth Games. If you compare the two it is easy to see why the Olympics has the bigger pull on our attention, for starters it encompasses the WORLD of nations. It is the global stage with 33 different sports, nearly 400 events, more than 200 nations and is spread over 17 glorious days; not to mention it’s illustrious history that covers millenniums (if you include the ancient Olympics). The Commonwealth Games on the other hand only lasts 10 days, includes 21 sports and has less than half the amount of countries – all of which are linked because they were once part of the British Empire. Also consider that for many that trip all the way up to Scotland isn’t as easy as a simple train journey to London.
72 years after the first ever Commonwealth Games, Manchester hosted the event in 2002 and, to their credit, it was great. Manchester saw a huge boost in swimming facilities including the Manchester Aquatics Centre, with two purpose-built Olympic sized pools and a diving pool. The location went on to host several other major national and international swimming and diving tournaments as well as being the training base for Australia’s Olympic swimmers ten years later at London 2012. Open to the public, it gave the population of the city a new place to train and swim for leisure with top class facilities. It is a must see if you are in Manchester.
It is also fair to say that the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games played an integral part in London winning the 2012 Olympic bid. The impressive opening ceremony and fun games showed how well Britain can host a major sporting event. That being said, the London Olympics was a much more impressive show. Bringing the world’s greatest swimmers, divers and triathletes to our shores, it was an event that inspired all. Just a month before the games, swimming had shown a large decrease in numbers of participants with figures suggesting a fall of over 430,000 swimmers. If swimming needed an injection of interest the Olympics came at the perfect time. After the games that number shot right back up again, something largely due to big names like Tom Daley, Michael Phelps and Rebecca Adlington getting a great deal of attention.
If there has been one worry all around with the 2014 Commonwealth Games it has been the lack of big names. With Rebecca Adlington retiring and Michael Phelps being American (and retiring) (temporarily), swimming has a lack of “celebrity” sports personalities getting involved which could lead to a lack of interest where the general public is concerned. That being said, this openness could lead to a breakout star, a true underdog moment that everyone can get behind. Scotland’s own Michael Jamieson is already catching the eye of many with a 2012 Olympic silver medal under his belt. Also England’s Fran Halsall could be receiving quite a lot of attention in women’s swimming with seven Commonwealth medals to her name. However Cate Campbell, a member of the improved and deadly Australian swim team could make scenes at the pool sizzle with excitement.
A recent, very promising study carried out by the BBC suggests the London Olympics has increased the popularity of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Out of over one thousand adults asked, 41% claim the London Olympics have increased their excitement for the 2014 event with 45% of women saying they were more intrigued about Glasgow 2014 after watching or hearing about London 2012. And by the looks of it the BBC will make sure we get plenty of coverage of the games with BBC1 being dedicated to all around coverage of all events while regular programming will be pushed to BBC2. Jonathon Edwards, who will undoubtedly be part of that coverage, claimed in an interview that this year’s Commonwealth Games will see the multi-game event “move up a notch”.
I think it is fair to say that the Olympics definitely have the bigger persuasion over people in getting them to the swimming pool. With more talent on show, better facilities (like the highly recommended London Aquatics Centre) and bigger opening ceremony (Scotland’s included Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle and Amy MacDonald which is hardly mind blowing) the buzz around London 2012 will defeat what Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games has to offer. However the Commonwealth Games do seem to be gaining momentum and interest, with the Queen’s baton relay getting much exposure. And in the world of swimming some new and upcoming names mixed with a couple of already established big names will keep the interest alive when it comes to competition time. All in all, I think sceptics will be surprised and this love affair with swimming the British public is having right now after the 2012 games will continue thanks to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.