The eyes of the globe turn to Glasgow, Scotland, this week for the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games.
There, some 4,500 athletes from 71 nations will take part in a vast array of events from 17 different sporting disciplines over the course of 11 days. While not as big as say, the Olympics, the once-every-four-years spectacle will seize international attention for a brief period as the best athletes in the world help to ensure their country's spot atop the medal leaderboard.
With the Opening Ceremony Wednesday, here is a look at the action set to begin Thursday.
Day 1 Schedule
|Sport||Start Time (Local)||Number of Events|
|BBC, * indicates medal event|
Note: Full schedule can be found at BBC.com.
Perhaps the most interesting storyline heading into the opening ceremony Wednesday was the impressive journey of the Queen's Baton, a 288-day spectacle that acted as a way for all nations to get involved, as captured by Glasgow 2014:
The events in Glasgow, not just on Day 1, but overall, have something for everyone, and human-interest storylines are making it well worth the wait.
For example, Susan Nattrass is not a household name around the globe. But it should be—the 63-year-old trap shooter has now participated in six Olympic Games, five Pan American Games and five Commonwealth Games.
A seven-time world champion, her journey to Scotland as the athlete who will carry Canada's flag is symbolic in that she not only represents one of the best of her generation, but perhaps her country's best shot at gold as she leads 265 fellow Canadians into the fray.
“I have a German friend who retired and came to Munich for a World Cup to see me and she said I’ll be in my wheelchair and near my grave and I’ll still be out competing,” Nattrass said, per The Canadian Press.
For those who want a more recognizable name to focus on, one Usain Bolt will be in attendance.
Interestingly enough, the six-time Olympic gold medalist has never been to a Commonwealth Games, but says he wanted to make the trip this year for a few critical reasons, as noted by Gary Ralston of the Daily Record:
I’m going there for my fans and I’m going there to show I’m getting back into shape and they can look for great things now and for the years to come. I’ve really wanted to run at the Commonwealth games over the years and although I got injured I’m getting back into shape to actually compete in the 4x100m. It has been rough, but I’ve been through it a couple times so I know what it takes to get back. I’m just pushing on and working towards what’s necessary for this season.
To paint in broader strokes, the country to watch this time around might just be India.
Riding triumphantly after a record six medals at the 2012 Olympics, the country and its 224 athletes are expected to make a strong push this week in disciplines such as boxing, shooting, wrestling and more. Vijay Kumar is the flag-bearer for the country and is but one part of a great shooting team that has gained 27 medals and 16 golds in Melbourne, with another 30 and 14 in Delhi.
Hockey is also a sudden strong suit for the country, as the team has done nothing short of improve in recent years, most recently claiming silver in Delhi.
As if to prove the 11-day spectacle is a diverse, if not downright intriguing event, the array of sports range from the predictable right on down to...lawn bowling.
As Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press explains it, the sport is about what most would expect:
"In lawn bowling — or lawn bowls, as it is also known — players roll balls alone or as part of a team to a specific target on a grass playing surface known as a green. The balls are unevenly weighted and curl as they slow down."
For some of the sport's top stars, such as Canadian Tim Mason, the event in Scotland is not only a chance to bring home some hardware for his country, but to further the sport's presence worldwide.
"Believe me, I've heard every joke under the sun from my friends that the sport is for old people who wear white," said Mason, per Clipperton. "We're developing programs for kids to learn about the game because it's really unknown."
Day 1 is just the beginning, a sample of what the 10 days thereafter will hold right up until the closing ceremony in early August.
It's certainly not an event the same magnitude as the Olympics, but the Commonwealth Games bring the same energy, passion and diversity—both in terms of sports and people alike—to the table to let it rightfully stand alone on the international scale.