In a huge shift of focus in past several years, there has been an increasing number of top athletes from the Caribbean and several erstwhile British colonies of African continent. Time was when US and Europe dominated athletics but when men and women from the Caribbean, East, West, North, Central and Southern Africa enrolled into American universities and had access to superior training methods, many of them emerged as top athletes. The same thing happened with smaller island nations of Mediterranean and the Pacific. Special mention may be made of countries like the Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, St. Kitts, Dominica, Trinidad & Tobago and others in the West Indies and Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and others in Africa. These regions now boast of world’s best track-and-field stars. These same stars also feature at high levels in Olympics and World Championship events and in this respect, athletics is one sporting event in Commonwealth Games which is comparable to the talent pool in any other international competition.
It has almost become a trend in recent past that athletes from the Caribbean rule the world athletic scene in short sprint competitions of 100 to 400 meters while Kenya has emerged as an athletic superpower in middle and long-distance running. Barring few exceptions, most top athletes from these regions were present in Glasgow and showcased their talent to add special sparkle to the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games. The track-and-field was given a skip by Yohan Blake, Usian Bolt’s Jamaican teammate and in further bad news, British medal hopes, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson did not participate. Earlier, Britain’s double world champion in 5000 and 10000m, Mo Farah had dropped a bombshell by pulling out of the Games and fans were disappointed with the concern of a possible letdown and depletion of the field. But finally, Usain Bolt made a grand appearance for the last lap of men’s 4×100 relay and lit up the Games’ night. After his knee surgery, Bolt has been absent from competitive athletics for a long while and he has begun training only recently. Besides Bolt’s larger-than-life presence at Glasgow, track-and-field lost none of its sheen as other athletes more than made up for the absence of those, who couldn’t come for one reason or another. Athletic superstars from Kenya topped the athletic medals tally with 10 golds, 10 silvers and 3 bronzes. Jamaican athletes were a close second with 10 golds, 3 silvers and 6 bronzes. Australia, England and Canada were third, fourth and fifth with 8-1-3, 5-13-9 and 5-2-10 medals respectively.
Expectedly, Kenyan women came up with brilliant performance in the events beginning with 800 meters up to the Marathon and bagged 13 out of a total of 18 medals on offer; including gold medals in every middle and long-distance event. Eunice Sum stole the show in 800m with 2:00.31 to leave second-placed Scottish woman Lynsey Sharp 1.5 seconds behind. Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo took the bronze. In 1500m, Faith Kibiegon won the gold ahead of England’s Laura Weightman and Canada’s Kate Buskirk. Women’s 3000m Steeplechase was an all-Kenyan affair with Purity Kirui leading her compatriots; Milcah Cheywa and Joan Kipkemoi. Mercey Cherono won gold in 5000m with compatriot Janet Kisa in second place and England’s Jo Pavey in third. 10000m was another all-Kenyan affair led by Joyce Chepkirui, followed by Florence Kiplagat and Emily Chebet and finally in the Marathon, Flomena Daniel won the gold in 2:26.45, ahead of her compatriot Caroline Kilel with Australian Jess Trengove taking the third place.
Glasgow games also had stars, who showed their class in their specialized fields. Grenada’s Olympic champion Kirani James won men’s 400m but David Rudisha, world record holder in 800m, had to remain content with silver behind Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Nigeria’s rising star Blessing Okagbare lived her to reputation by winning golds in 100 and 200m sprints, although she lost in 4×100 relay to the star-studded Jamaicans, comprising of Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kerron Stewart and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Many London Olympic champions added Glasgow golds to their medal kitty and one among them was the dominating Valerie Adams of New-Zealand. For Adams, it was the third consecutive Commonwealth shot put gold and she is yet to lose after 56 consecutive competitions. Other Olympic winners coming on top at Glasgow were; England’s Greg Rutherford in men’s long jump and Australia’s Sally Pearson in 100m hurdles. No one could go below 10 seconds in men’s coveted 100m sprint as Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole bagged gold in 10 seconds. England’s Adam Gemili was second and talented Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, third. Jamaicans also swept Men’s 200m field with Rasheed Dwyer, Warren Weir and Jason Livermore making it 1-2-3. James Kiplagat and Ronald Kwemoi displayed Kenyan dominance in 1500m with Nick Willis of New-Zealand taking the bronze. It was the same story in 5000m, where Caleb Ndiku and Isiah Koech took gold and silver and New-Zealander Zane Robertson got the bronze. In 10000m, however, Kenya yielded the gold to Moses Kipsiro of Uganda and in Marathon, Australia’s Michael Shelley won ahead of Kenya’s Stephen Chemlany. A number of Ugandan and Kenyan athletes finished within the top ten in Marathon.