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Commonwealth Games 2018: How two men divided by the Atlantic Ocean set the Games rolling

Two men are generally credited with the formation of CWG.
Two men are generally credited with the formation of CWG. (Representational Image)
Modified 02 Apr 2018, 19:50 IST

PV Sindhu will be at the front of the pack as the Indian contingent will head out in front of millions of spectators in Gold Coast. This will be the 17th time that India will be represented at one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

The CWG has, over the years, given India a chance to compete against the best in the world. But how did the games themselves come to be? What were the reasons behind creating another international multi-sport event when the Olympics were already there?

We take a look at the history of the games. Where the games first happened, when the games first happened and more importantly who was the reason behind the games.

The Commonwealth Games were first thought of by an English vicar, John Astley Cooper in the 1890s, when he proposed a sporting competition panning the British Empire. The idea behind it was to bring together the British Empire, although some might argue that his main motive might have been to show the superiority of the English world.

Curiously, there is another man who is credited with the establishment of the Commonwealth Games. That man is Melville Marks Robinson, who was born in Ontario, Canada. He was a sports reporter and later the manager of the Canadian track and field team for the 1928 Summer Olympics, which took place in Amsterdam.

Both men are credited as the founders of the CWG. However, some people believe that while Cooper was the brains behind the competition, it was Robinson who was the main driving force.

The reasons behind Robinson's actions were simple. He wanted Canada to have an equal chance to compete against the best sides in the world. He also wanted to end American superiority over Canada. He believed the overbearing Americans were to blame for the misrepresentation of Canada at the Olympic games and wanted to break away and form a version of the games where only the British Empire would compete.

While Robinson toyed with the idea for many years, the 1928 Olympics convinced him to go through with it. A series of unfortunate events and contentious decisions, most notably to let Americans practice on the track while denying the Canadians drove him over the edge and he would start on his journey to formulate the quadrennial event.

He discussed the idea with the officials of the British team and later even travelled to London to convince the England to take part in the games. He also promised to pay the expenses of teams such Australia and New Zealand to bring them across the Pacific.

Robinson worked hard, travelled from one place to another, and tried to convince all sorts of influential men and women in order to make sure that the games happen. His dream was realized in 1930. His hard work and commitment towards the games meant it was only fair that the first ever British Empire Games took place in his native Ontario, Canada.


The first ever games were attended by eleven countries. Athletes competed against one another in six sports. However, women were only allowed to participate in aquatic events.

The games have come a long way from then. The approach of the organizers has changed over the years and so has the name, multiple times. For starters, it will be the first time in the history of multi-sport events that men and women will be allowed to participate in an equal number of events.

As the Commonwealth Games continue to create history, it is only fair that we take a moment to appreciate the work of two gentlemen. One, the brain behind the games, while the other was the brawn.

Published 02 Apr 2018, 19:23 IST
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