1 Oct 2010

New Zealand's history at the Commonwealth Games

11:30 pm on 1 October 2010

New Zealand is one of just six countries that have attended every Commonwealth Games since the competition's inception in 1930.

The event, held in Hamilton, Canada, was first named the British Empire Games and held with the goal of "increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire".

Some 400 athletes represented 11 countries in six sports and 59 events at the first Games. By contrast, 71 countries will send more than 7000 team officials and athletes to participate in 17 sports in Delhi. New Zealand will send 191 athletes.

The first Games in 1930 was a successful one for New Zealand, with the team winning three gold medals: Bill Savidan for the six miles, Stan Lay for javelin and Mick Brough, Ben Waters, John MacDonald, Bert Sandos and Arthur Eastwood for the rowing four with cox.

1990 Games most successful to date

But New Zealand's most victorious year at the Commonwealth Games was in 1990 at the Auckland Games where the team won 58 medals, including 17 gold.

Star athletes included Gary Anderson with three cycling gold medals plus a silver; Anna Simcic, who won gold and silver in the 200m and 100m backstroke respectively; Anthony Mosse who won gold and bronze in the 200m butterfly and men's freestyle relay; and Nikki Jenkins who, at 14, claimed New Zealand's first-ever Commonwealth gymnastics gold.

Controversial times

The Commonwealth Games has proved controversial on a number of occasions.

In 1978, Nigeria boycotted the Edmonton Games in Canada in protest of New Zealand's sporting contacts with South Africa.

In 1986, 32 African and Caribbean nations boycotted the Edinburgh Games in protest at apartheid in sports, while South Africa was banned from competing at the Commonwealth Games from 1961-1994 due to its apartheid policies.

The 1974 Games in Christchurch was marked by a heavy security presence, following the terrorist attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics in which 11 sportsmen were killed.

The 1974 Commonwealth Games was also noteworthy for another reason: it was the first sporting event televised in New Zealand in colour.

New Zealand has hosted the Commonwealth Games three times - in Christchurch in 1974 and in Auckland in 1950 and 1990.

With assistance from www.thecgf.com