Millennium institute of sport & health
An inside review of the Commonwealth Games
Mike Stanley is the CEO of AUT Millennium, New Zealand’s home of high performance sport and the President of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. Mike gives us his thoughts and an inside look into the Commonwealth Games.
It was my absolute privilege to attend the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and experience first-hand the most successful overseas-Games New Zealand has ever had. The cyclists gave us a great start, just as the rowers did at the London Olympics and there is no doubt that having a big contingent doing so well buoys the confidence and determination of those yet to compete and the cyclists did that in spades.
Before the success of the cyclists there was the small task of choosing who was going to carry the flag at the opening ceremony. The official flag bearer is a tremendous honour for the chosen athlete and is always a tough decision to select one person out of a total of 237. Upon her selection, Val Adams was visibly moved and told of the journey she had taken from a raw 17 year old at her first Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and the importance of the Games in her development and success.
I doubt there was anyone who argued with the decision by Rob Waddell to choose Val. She is a brilliant role model to the team and epitomises what it means to be a professional athlete representing her country with pride.
A highlight for many who watched the Games was the performances of the Judo team. They are one of the smaller sports you don't hear or see much of and they did exceptionally well. Adrian Leat, who comes from the North Shore, did superbly well to win a medal just months after his older brother Alistair’s death. Alistair was also an accomplished judoka and Adrian demonstrated wonderful resolve and character to win a medal which he dedicated to his brother.
It was a fantastic achievement to bring 45 medals home, 14 of which are Gold, making them the best overseas Commonwealth Games we have had on both counts. With Val Adams’ winning throw in the shot put the total New Zealand medal tally at the Commonwealth Games reached 600, a significant milestone for all the athletes who have represented NZ over the years.
Not all of our athletes came away with a sense of satisfaction with their performance. Across a team of 237 athletes that would be expecting too much. Be assured, those that didn't reach their performance targets are hurting, but those that I talked to are not deterred and are determined to get even.
Some have questioned the relevance of the Games in today's sporting environment. It was certainly not a question on the minds of the New Zealand team. They went about being as professional as they could in order to produce their very best performances against world-class opponents. Whilst not everyone at the Games were in the ‘top bracket’, the quality at the top is undeniable and gives our athletes the opportunity to test themselves against the best in a multi-sport environment.
It is also important to remember that the Games are more than just a sporting event. They bring together 71 nations and territories with a shared heritage, many of whom have fought side by side in the defence of common values and ideals. New Zealand competes against some of its closest friends and fiercest rival nations and we have been part of the Games since they began.
The performance of our athletes was quite an achievement and a big step up from Delhi and before that Melbourne. We now look forward to the greatest prize of them all, Olympic Glory in Rio. I hope you will follow these athletes’ journeys as they compete for their chance to represent New Zealand and wear the Silver Fern with pride.
Mike Stanley, CEO of AUT Millennium and President of the New Zealand Olympic Committee