The unstoppable Aussies will look to make it seven in a row at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, while England is bent on stopping them in their tracks.
The Commonwealth Games (known as the British Empire Games until 1966) have brought athletes from the farthest corners of the British Commonwealth since their inauguration in 1930, holding the event in places as distant as Hamilton, Canada and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2010 6,700 athletes from 71 countries met in New Delhi, India to compete in sports as diverse as boxing, lawn bowls, sprinting and triathlon.
But while the games are the world’s most diverse sporting event outside of the Summer Olympics, they’ve been dominated by a few countries. In fact, England, Australia or Canada has finished as the top medal’s winner at every meeting in history.
The Aussies have shown a special talent for sports, having finished on top twelve times and at every meeting since 1990. In fact, the last time that Australia didn’t win the Commonwealth Games Margaret Thatcher was still British Prime Minister, the internet hadn’t been invented and the Soviet Union was still fighting in Afghanistan.
Meet the Aussies circa 2014
The Aussies will try to make it seven in a row at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. They stand a strong chance, bringing a host of impressive athletes and teams. As for team sports, their best chances of winning are in games such as rugby seven, team cycling sprint and hockey.
Online sportsbooks in the UK and elsewhere such as Paddy Power, Bet365 and BetVictor are taking wagers on most of the events, and Australia is close to the top in each. Paddy Power is favoring Australia to win in hockey by overwhelming 3/10 odds. New Zealand is favorite to win at rugby sevens with the Aussies being a 10/1 relative long-shot, but we wouldn’t count them out. And any event between Australia and New Zealand is worth betting on.
• Australia has placed as the top medal’s winner in 11 out of 20 Commonwealth Games
• This year in Glasgow the Aussies will attempt to make it their seventh consecutive victory
• England stands to mount the most serious challenge, with bookmakers and analysts favoring them in athletics In athletics, a sport in which the Australians have more gold medals than in any other, they are sending some great male and female competitors. Hurdler Sally Pearson is arguably the best in her event, thrower Dani Samuels looks likely to win the gold medal, and jumper Alana Boyd has outperformed all other challengers in trials.
Also expect the Aussies to take home a basket of gold medals in swimming, where 20-year old Cameron McEvoy and teammate James Magnusson are arguably the two best freestyle swimmers in the entire games. McEvoy competed in the London Olympics as an 18-year old and is fast building a reputation as one of the best in the world.
The rival between Australia and mother country England has long been central to the games. Many sport fans in either country see it not as a competition of the world’s top athletes or as a throwback to the British Empire’s former glory, but as a zero-sum struggle between these two nations.
England has won six times, including back in 1986 before the Australian reign of domination began. It will attempt to mount a serious challenge this time around. Australian chief Steve Moneghetti had this to say:
"We know England in particular is looking to go one step better than their runner-up position on the medal tally in three of the last four Games and a host of other nations such as India, Canada and the Scots themselves will also be looking to make their mark."
England will present the two highest-regarded men’s triathletes in the game, brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. In addition, after coming in second behind Kenya in 2010 and Australia in 2006, England looks poised to take away the top billing in athletics.
They are bringing Mo Farah, one of the world’s best distance runners and an Olympic gold medalist, will represent the Englishmen. They will also have an advantage playing close to their home soil in Scotland. Australian athletics coach Eric Hollingsworth even remarked that England deserves to go into the games as the favorite, with Australia coming in at a close second.
As for individual events, Commonwealth Games betting odds overwhelmingly favor the Jamaicans. On the men’s side, fastest man in the world Usain Bolt will lead them in the 4X100 meter relay. In the 100 meter sprint Bet365 has two Jamaicans in the top three, with Nickel Ashmeade as the likely outright winner at 8/13 and Jason Livermore at 7/1.
As successful as the Aussies have been, they haven’t won the netball gold since 2002. This year the team led by Kathryn Harby-Williams and Tegan Caldwell will attempt to change that. Who has won the past two times? Those pesky neighbors the New Zealanders, who have never finished at the top in any Commonwealth Games but have had success in a lot of events.