At the 2018 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, chairman of the Organising Committee Peter Beattie said: “Beautiful one day, perfect the next. Welcome to Australia, welcome to Queensland, and welcome to the Gold Coast.”
From the 35,000 spectators in the arena, applause arose at the commencement of a new Commonwealth Games lasting from April 4 to 15.
The Opening Ceremony took place at the Carrara Stadium and it is estimated that a total of 1.5 billion people tuned-in to the visual spectacle throughout the course of the night.
The Ceremony consisted of multiple segments showcasing contrasting artistic displays of Australia’s culture. These included visual explorations of the Australian indigenous culture, surfing, wildlife and theme parks. The theme of the night was “Hello earth” which was amplified by the speech of Jack Thompson who remarked, while glancing at an illuminated globe: “From here, you can’t see any borders. No barriers built to divide us, no people on different sides.”
The Baton Relay was brought into the stadium via a kombi van driven by Australian swimmer, Susie O’Neill. She drove the Baton to the centre of the stadium where images and videos of popular Gold Coast destinations were projected. After the remarkable visual display, the Baton was handed over to Australian cyclist Brad McGee and then onto Australian wheelchair racer, Kurt Fearnley.
Soon after, the Baton was placed in the hands of netballer Liz Ellis who had been a member of the Australian national netball team from 1992 until 2007 and was captain for four years.
Australian hockey player Brent Livermore was next to take the Baton, followed by Sally Pearson, the Olympic champion hurdler who received perhaps the largest cheer due to her residency in the Gold Coast itself. Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin then handed the Baton over to Prince Charles who opened it up and read out the Queen’s message, declaring the Games finally open.
Hosting the Commonwealth Games for the fifth time, Australia welcomed more than 4,400 athletes including 300 Para-athletes.
Australia made history when it was announced the 2018 Commonwealth Games were to be the first time a multi-sport event achieved gender equality by having an equal number of events for both female and male athletes.
Throughout the course of the Games, 71 Commonwealth nations participated in 19 sports, including The Gambia who withdrew their membership to the Commonwealth in 2013 but re-joined in early 2018.
One of the primary concerns with such an event as this is always wheelchair accessibility. After announcing the Games were to have the largest-ever integrated Para-sports programme, it was decided actions needed to be taken in order to make the event more accessible.
Wheelchair basketball gold medallist Nick Morris was used in order to rate the accessibility of the venue, rating it a solid eight out of 10. However, certain members of the public disagreed.
Many people believed the services were unprepared for the amount of wheelchair users at the event. Morris came back with a statement urging spectators with specific needs to be more prepared before coming to the Games. He said: “As is always the case with the first session of the first day of the first event, you’re going to have issues.”
The Games brought a plethora of record-breaking and memorable moments to go down in Commonwealth history. The women’s triathlon competitor, Flora Duffy, was feeling the heat going into her race on April 5, saying: “I came in the favourite so that adds its own pressure.” Following a very successful race, she went away holding Bermuda’s first-ever women’s gold medal. “It’s going to take a while to soak in - it’s a very cool feeling,” she said.
English athletes Joe Townsend and Jade Jones dominated the men’s and women’s Para-triathlon races, both taking home gold medals. In particular, the story of Jones was a fascinating one regarding the fact she had not been able to swim just 18 months ago. Jones took part in both the Rio Paralympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games as a highly-regarded wheelchair racer but she felt as though she had more to conquer than just wheelchair racing. After watching the inaugural Olympic event in Rio, Jones decided to take on the challenge of competing in the Para-triathlon and said: “I couldn’t swim come November 2016 and that’s when I started to learn.” Jade Jones topped off her Para-triathlon win by claiming the bronze medal in the T54 marathon.
Another memorable part of the Games was the heart-wrenching moment Kathryn Mitchell broke down into tears after realising she had secured her first-ever gold medal. The Australian javelin thrower had exceeded the current Commonwealth Games and Australian record with her first throw reaching 68.92 metres. It was later revealed that the throw had remarkably been the longest throw in the world for five years. The gold medal came as a shock to Mitchell following a consecutive stream of placing below the medal line, placing sixth at the Melbourne 2006 Games, fifth at New Delhi 2010 and fourth at Glasgow 2014.
The Closing Ceremony was held at the Carrara Stadium and began at 8.30pm, lasting just short of two hours long. The night began with Australian singer, Amy Shark, singing the hit song “Let Love Rule” to the audience of 35,000. Shark was then followed by a stream of successful musicians including Ricki-Lee Coulter and Archie Roach.
Shortly after, Peter Beattie delivered his speech. He said: “These Games will be remembered for equal medals for women and men. These Games saw the full and authentic introduction of Para-athletes.
“These Games will be remembered for the passion and commitment of so many people.”
Later on that evening, the Premier of Queensland, Anastacia Palaszczuk, spoke to the crowd, announcing: “The world has seen Queensland at its best - where life is beautiful one day and perfect the next. You will always have friends right here in Queensland, thank you.”
Following a short display about the next host city of Birmingham, Prince Edward gave a speech declaring the Games to be closed. The flag was then handed over to the city of Birmingham, symbolically representing the Games being passed over to the new host city.
Date Games held: April 4 to 15
Number of nations represented: 71
Number of competitors: 4,400
Number of medal events: 275
Gold medal standings: Australia 80; England 45; India 26; Canada 15; New Zealand 15