IN what some likened to an infomercial or bad episode of Home and Away, the Gold Coast featured in a fifteen-minute promo during the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Jessica Mauboy invited the world to come down under in 2018 to ‘a city of sandcastles and skyscrapers’.
While a seed of wanderlust was planted and #GoldCoast started trending on Twitter, I’m worried that we are selling ourselves – and the Commonwealth Games – short when we take the sun, surf and sand angle.
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Just look at New Delhi. The extravagance of the 2010 Commonwealth Games hinted at the emergence of a sporting culture in India and winning their first ever gold medal that year definitely helped support the notion.
As the dust settled though and promises fell short, it became evident that India’s priority was much more superficial – dollar signs and tourism.
It was fuel to the fire for the many who were already questioning the relevance of the Commonwealth Games.
The 2014 Glasgow Games had a lot to prove and were under the microscope from the start. Time will tell how the nation fares from hosting, but already the Games have been heralded a huge success.
Glasgow brought us back to the character behind the competition. They found the point of difference from the Olympics and celebrated it instead of try to replicate it, they welcomed visitors with open arms, they flocked to the less mainstream sports like squash and bowls and they supported the integration of para-sports into the mainstream program.
A fledgling hope has been kindled that the Commonwealth Games still have a place and the responsibility has now been handed over to the Gold Coast to fan it into a flame. We have 1338 days to make it happen.
Following New Delhi’s example and serving ourselves isn’t going to cut it. We need to look at the bigger picture and work hard to represent The Commonwealth Games in its truest sense.
Instead of promoting our city, we need to promote a vision and instead of showing off our climate, we need to show off our best asset – the people who live here.
If we can get past the sun, surf and sand to show off our mateship, easy-going nature, love of the underdog, willingness to have a drink with anyone and appreciation of friendly competition, we just might stumble across the heart of the Commonwealth Games – and leave a legacy that will benefit our city for generations to come.
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