As we begin a new decade our ongoing theme of ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ takes on a new dimension with celebrations planned to mark a year of milestone dates ahead.
2020 marks the 90th anniversary of the first Commonwealth Games (then Empire Games) held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930. As one of only six nations to have competed in every Games since, we are looking forward to celebrating Scotland’s success over those 90 years, as well as the countless experiences shared and friendships made as part of Team Scotland.
This summer also sees a special anniversary for Scotland as the Edinburgh 1970 Games celebrates 50 years, Scotland’s first as hosts, the first metric Games and the first to be known as the ‘Friendly Games’, a tag that has been carried by the Commonwealth Games ever since. Scotland is one of only three countries to have hosted the Games three times, (Australia and Canada the other two) culminating in the ‘best Games ever’ at Glasgow 2014.
The early part of the year sees Auckland’s two Games in 1950 and 1990 celebrate their 70th and 30th anniversaries respectively, while October marks ten years since Delhi 2010.
Since 1930, the Games have been held every four years (except during World War II) and the event has seen many changes, expanding from 400 athletes from 11 countries competing in 1930 to almost 1,400 athletes from 42 nations at Edinburgh 1970 to over 4,000 athletes from 71 nations and territories competing at the most recent Games in Gold Coast. Represented by 15 athletes participating in six sports at those first Games and winning a very creditable 10 medals, Scotland have gone on to win medals at every Games since for a total of 453 including 119 gold.
The Games programme has expanded significantly from six sports at those first Games to 19 at the next Games in Birmingham in 2022. From women only having the opportunity to compete in five swimming and two diving events at Hamilton 1930, compared to 52 events across six sports for men, there are now an equal number of medal events for men and women. Since 2002 the programme has included para-sport athletes, the only international multi-sport Games where para-sport events are fully integrated.
2020 also marks 20 years since the inaugural Commonwealth Youth Games held in Edinburgh in August 2000. A concept created by Scotland to give athletes under 18 years of age prior experience before an often daunting international multi-sport Games debut at senior level, the event quickly proved to be a great success.
Growing from 14 countries competing in Edinburgh, the Youth Games now attracts entries from all 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth and has been the ideal introduction to multi-sport Games for a host of international stars. Hannah Miley, Jen McIntosh, Josh Taylor and many more have gone on from representing Team Scotland at the Youth Games to compete at senior level at Commonwealth and Olympic Games and speak positively of the impact their Youth Games experience had on their senior career.
Over the year we look forward to reconnecting with past team members with a series of reunion events planned, working closely with the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archives held at the University of Stirling and Sporting Memories Scotland to bring the current collection to life and record past team members’ memories of the Commonwealth Games to connect past and future generations.
Of course, for the athletes of the present day, the focus will very much be on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer with Scottish athletes working hard to ensure that they are not only selected, but ready to compete with distinction for Team GB. With a huge range of other World, European and international events over the coming year we look forward to continuing to celebrate the success of current Scottish athletes, whose way was paved by our stars of the past.
Jon Doig, Chief Executive at Commonwealth Games Scotland