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Commonwealth Games: All you need to know

What is the Commonwealth Games?

For the uninitiated, the Commonwealth Games is a multi-sports event, comprising countries that have been part of the British Empire (although Rwanda and Mozambique take part too).

Held every four years, the latest edition is about to begin in Australia’s Gold Coast.

It will be the biggest sporting event Down Under since Melbourne hosted the same competition back in 2006.

More than six thousand athletes and team officials representing 71 different nations will contest 18 different sports as well as seven para-sports from 4th-15th April.

For the first time, there will be an even distribution of medals between women and men.

There are 133 medal events for each gender, with another nine mixed competitions.

What’s new?

Given the location’s name – and the abundance of sand – it is no surprise that beach volleyball will make its debut at the Commonwealth Games.

Women’s rugby sevens will also make an appearance with the hosts looking to repeat their success of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Para-triathlon is included for the first time.

Who should I look out for?

The Gold Coast will be full of Olympic champions over the next couple of weeks.

Although he may have hung up his spikes, eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt is going to make a trip to Australia.

The sprint king has already said he will be there to cheer on his former Jamaican team-mates.

Amongst them are star names Elaine Thompson and Yohan Blake.

Thompson doubled up for gold in both 100 and 200 metres at the last Olympics, but has said she will concentrate only on the 200m at the Commonwealths.

Blake will face a tough battle for sprint supremacy.

Wayde van Niekerk has warned that it is “non-negotiable” that his fellow South African Akani Simbine will be in the medals mix.

Then there is promising English talent Zharnel Hughes, who looked in good shape in the final warm-up event in Brisbane.

Australians will be hoping London 2012 gold medallist Sally Pearson recovers from an achilles injury in time for the 100m hurdles.

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya will be a huge favourite in the 800 metres, and could well take on the 1500m as well.

Also keep an eye out for Valerie Adams, double Olympic shotput champion returning to action after the birth of her daughter.

Adams is looking to land a fourth consecutive Commonwealth gold.

Le Clos closes in on history

It’s not just track and field awash with Olympians.

In the pool, Chad le Clos will be chasing a place in the record books.

The South African, who took gold in the 200m butterfly at London, is trying to become the most decorated Commonwealth medallist of all time.

Le Clos already has 12 medals from his previous two Commonwealth trips and is entered in eight events this time around.

His target to beat? 18 medals in total.

England’s Adam Peaty also has a record in mind.

The 23-year old is the reigning Olympic champ in the 100m breaststroke and wants to become the first man to go under 57 seconds for the event.

Canada’s 100m freestyle champion Penny Oleksiak will be looking to add a Commonwealth medal to her collection.

Meanwhile, the home charge will be led by their hero from Rio, Kyle Chalmers, fully recovered from heart surgery last year.

Indian chances

There are plenty of other storylines to develop over the coming days.

India’s shuttlers will look for success on the badminton court.

Rio silver medallist PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, and world number 2 Kidambi Srikanth are all part of a strong line up.

Also of huge interest will be the clash between India and Pakistan in men’s hockey.

The two have an incredible Olympic pedigree, with 11 gold medals between them.

Malaysia’s Nicol David – the woman who has been dubbed the ‘Serena Williams of Squash’ – is aiming for a third straight title.

Whileย Alistair Brownlee will try to defend his Commonwealth triathlon crown.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist is also England’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.

Young and old

Eleven-year-old Anna Hursey will become one of the youngest ever athletes to compete at a Commonwealth Games.

Hursey is part of the Welsh table tennis team, having first started the sport six years ago.
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The oldest is 99-year-old George Corones.

Corones has been given honourary membership into the Aussie swim team after he became a huge hit at the Australian Commonwealth trials.

In a specially staged event, Corones smashed the Masters record in the 50m freestyle in the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Corones only returned to swimming at the age of 80 after giving it up before World War Two.

 

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