Opinion

Bird is the word so is bored

by
April 10, 2018

The Commonwealth Games needs more real emotion - like Dane Bird-Smith receiving a Gold Coast baptism from his adoring fans after claiming gold - to better connect with the public. Picture: AAP/Tracey Nearmy

The Commonwealth Games are nothing more than a ticker tape parade for Australia’s sporting identities.

Like a D-grade cricket bully or a senior football star warming up in the reserves on his way back from injury, Australia’s dominance on the Gold Coast is predictable and — at times — simply tedious.

I love sport more than most, and am unbelievably excited about the wall-to-wall coverage of every event under the sun for close to two weeks.

I have been screaming Barrie Lester’s green and gold lawn bowls home to the jack, singing the praises of Dane ‘‘Birdman’’ Bird-Smith and his ability to sprint while walking and riding the highs and lows of Matthew Glaetzer’s tumultuous week on the bike.

But at what point does Australia’s supremacy become too much to handle?

On Sunday night the Aussies produced clean sweeps of the men’s 50m backstroke and women’s 50m butterfly finals in the pool, completely annihilated second-seed Canada 100-61 in the women’s basketball and brushed aside South Africa 60-38 on the netball court.

The medal tally has regularly had Australia doubling the next country’s gold and total medal counts, and it seems like everywhere you turn another local is standing atop a podium.

Beating up on smaller countries in team sports is all well and good, but does it actually improve Australia’s standard or add anything to their respective outfits?

I think not.

The aspects of the Games I want to see more of are the absolute scenes following Malawi’s triumph over New Zealand in the netball.

Before that defeat, the Silver Ferns had lost just three times at the Games — all to Australia and all in gold medal matches.

But when that final whistle blew and Malawi’s players and coaches piled onto each other before breaking into a spontaneous dance concert — that is what this fortnight should be all about.

When it is not about the battlers beating all the odds to claim victory, I would like to see a bit more from athletes.

I liked the emotion shown by Canadian weightlifter Boady Santavy and Australian para-triathlete Bill Chaffey at the weekend.

If you are a raging favourite who gets done for gold, at least give the public something — none of these stone-walled faces and dead-pan responses while you accept silver or bronze.

Santavy was not exactly the odds-on favourite, but when he lifted 201kg in his clean-and-jerk, the gold looked his to lose.

And lose it he did after Steven Kari of Papua New Guinea cleared 216kg, making a mess of the backstage area in a tantrum for the ages.

Meanwhile, Chaffey was a certain thing beaten in his event with a crash costing him gold.

The bronze medal he eventually claimed was little comfort to him after the race.

‘‘You always get people (who are) good-hearted and they mean well. They want to say that you did well and all that sort of stuff. But only an athlete knows. You’re not going out there to try and win a bronze medal — I was going out to try and win gold,’’ he told Channel Seven’s broadcast.

‘‘I made the mistake, I stuffed up. I’m really dirty about that. It was silly racing. I’m gonna be kicking myself for years to come.’’

The raw emotion of athletes is what makes watching the Games so amazing — these are real people with real dreams, and whether they are aiming for gold, bronze or simply to be there competing, what they are achieving is outstanding.

But maybe we could do away with a few qualifying rounds in the team sports — because unless there is another Malawi-esque upset it is getting pretty mundane.

If I wanted to watch inferior teams get slaughtered by sides in second gear, I could go and watch social sport at various venues across the Goulburn Valley.

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