Commonwealth more relevant than ever before as “Games of Firsts” draws to a close on Gold Coast

Commonwealth more relevant than ever before as “Games of Firsts” draws to a close on Gold Coast

•             XXI Commonwealth Games sets record for number of medal-winning nations and territories

•             Breadth of Commonwealth Sport grows as five countries win Commonwealth medals for first time ever

•             Games praised as unprecedented platform for humanity, inclusion and social impact

•             Gender-equal focus comes to a close with uplifting concert from female musical icons as baton handed to “Commonwealth City” of Birmingham

•             Special award for outstanding sporting spirit goes to New Zealand weightlifter David Liti

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President, Louise Martin CBE, this evening declared the success of XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia proof of the Commonwealth Sports Movement’s fast-growing stature on the world stage.

Terming Gold Coast 2018 “the Games of Firsts” in her Closing Ceremony speech at the Carrara Stadium, Martin highlighted the five Commonwealth countries that won their first ever Commonwealth medals on the Gold Coast; and stated that the medals won by Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, British Virgin Islands and Dominica demonstrated the fast-growing impact of Commonwealth sport. The Games also broke the record for the most number of countries winning medals at a Commonwealth Games (43 out of 71), beating the previous total of 39 set at Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006.

Commenting on the success of the XXI Commonwealth Games, CGF President Louise Martin CBE said: “Gold Coast 2018 will forever be remembered as ‘the Games of Firsts. When I spoke at the opening of the Games 11 days ago, I asked the assembled athletes to grasp the opportunity of the Commonwealth Games and create their own history and fulfil their dreams. I must sincerely thank and congratulate them for rising so magnificently to this challenge”

“Nine World Records and 83 Games Records were broken. From the first ever medals for Commonwealth islands and states; the first ever Jamaican Lawn Bowls team, the “Reggae Rollers, or the first-ever Ugandan netball team competing so strongly - these captivating stories, and the many others we witnessed here in Australia, are what Commonwealth sport is all about. It is what sets us apart in the world of sport and confirms that the ‘Friendly Games’ is alive and well, indeed more relevant than ever before,” she continued.

The inspiring and impactful performances of our Commonwealth athletes have delivered on the promise of a historic collection of ‘firsts’ that were achieved in the run up to Games; whether that be the ground-breaking Reconciliation Action Plan, the equal number of medals for men and women for the first time, or the largest ever fully-integrated para-sport programme seen in Commonwealth and world sport,” said Martin.

In a spectacular Closing Ceremony capping 11 days of record-breaking sport, Martin thanked the Gold Coast 2018 Organising Corporation (GOLDOC) and the Games Partners (Queensland Government, City of Gold Coast and Commonwealth Games Australia) for their support and delivery of the Games; before praising the spirit and support of the Australian public, Games volunteers, staff, and the Commonwealth athletes. She also gave special mention to the Yugambeh community and in particular the Indigenous Working Groups and local Yugambeh Advisory Group who contributed to and supported the delivery of the Games. As part of her closing remarks, the CGF President announced that the hugely successful Games mascot Borobi – whose name means Koala in local language – would continue its work and be used after the Games to support and raise funds for the Yugambeh community.

CGF Chief Executive Officer, David Grevemberg CBE said: “The athletes have helped us write a new chapter in our modern Commonwealth’s history. The captivating stories, and unparalleled performances have brought a new meaning to the words ‘Commonwealth Athlete’. What we have witnessed on the Gold Coast has instilled incredible pride in what it means to be a Commonwealth athlete, both as a high performance competitor on the field of play, and as a champion of causes and passions off it. That is what being an athlete on what has become known as ‘Team Commonwealth’ is all about.”

During the closing speeches, the Games were praised for their humanity, social purpose and impact and the inclusive and joyful message it sent to the wider Commonwealth and world as a Games that would champion positive, social change.

“One of the real talking points has been the way the Games has recognised, respected and championed greater discourse surrounding reconciliation and indigenous rights in Australia. It’s part of a far-reaching commitment to equality – which has seen para-sport, gender equality and LGBTI inclusion also take centre stage – which has truly shifted the dial in what are hugely important and current conversations for society today,” added Grevemberg.

“Gold Coast 2018 is by no means the end of our reconciliation journey. We were privileged to have the indigenous peoples of 15 different countries with us on the Gold Coast, and we now look forward to taking this important conversation concerning first nation’s peoples’ rights to other parts of our family of nations as we continue to champion Commonwealth sport as a force for good in the modern world.”

Speaking at the Closing Ceremony, GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie AC said: “We’ve brought meaning to the definition of the Friendly Games. For the more than one million spectators and the hundreds of millions of people watching across the world, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be remembered for many reasons; for a significant number of firsts that will set the standard for future Games.

“Inclusion is the Commonwealth Games future. It’s what makes us extraordinary. From its beginnings in Canada more than 80 years ago, the Games were always designed to be more than just a sporting spectacle.  They are a way for us to come together and share what we have in common. If you’ll excuse the gentle boast, I can think of no better place for that vision to be realised than here on the Gold Coast.”

The Closing Ceremony also saw an ambitious handover segment to the next hosts, Birmingham, England, which saw Birmingham MC and Rapper Lady Sanity wow the crowds in the Carrara Stadium before introducing a live choreographed dance segment from Birmingham City Centre – the first time a handover segment has taken place simultaneously across two continents. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Anne Underwood received the flag on behalf of the city, which will host the Games from 27 July to 7 August 2022.

As part of the Closing Ceremony proceedings, the David Dixon Award was also presented to an outstanding athlete of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. New Zealand weightlifter David Liti received the award for outstanding sporting spirit after his medal ceremony in the Men’s 105kg+ Weightlifting, where he offered to assist his Samoan rival who was left in a wheelchair after injuring himself in the final.

Calling on the Commonwealth to join together again in 2022, Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Anne Underwood said: “Birmingham is extremely excited and honoured to have been selected to host the XXII Commonwealth Games in 2022. Whilst we can't promise the sun, sand and sea of these Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, we can promise youth, energy, creativity and a love of sport. As Lord Mayor and First Citizen of Birmingham, I too can guarantee the warmest of welcomes to our city in 2022. Birmingham is the heart of the UK and the soul of the Commonwealth and we are already putting our hearts and souls into making the 2022 Commonwealth Games a celebration that everyone can be proud of.”