Anderson: Games are second-tier but so what?

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 03:14 04/08/2014
NZ judo medalists
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

PINNACLE EVENT: Four of New Zealand's five judo medalists in Glasgow (from left) Adrian Leat (silver), Moira de Villiers (silver), Jason Koster (bronze) and Tim Slyfield (bronze). Darnica Manuel also claimed a bronze medal in judo.

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OPINION: Assessing the relevance of the Commonwealth Games is a difficult beast, when you've been inside the belly for a fortnight.

Sleep deprivation can cause serious deception, but it's hard to imagine that the 20th hosting of the Games that ended in Glasgow today was anything but a success.

The city embraced the athletes and the competition - venues were packed, the atmosphere was rousing and the infrastructure ideal.

At a time when the Games has been labelled an anachronism, this noisy, engaging Scottish city managed to "gie it laldy" and turned up the heat on its successor.

The next Games will be held on the Gold Coast in Australia. That should guarantee a few givens - ideal weather (Glasgow's luck was in in this regard) and a ready supply of sports-crazy spectators. If funding is sufficient, 2018 should also prove the Games still have legs.

The only concern would be an overdose of that tired "Aussie Aussie Aussie" chant, which occasionally got an unwanted revival here, chiefly courtesy of their ill-advised athletes.

Even taking with a pillar of salt that Usain Bolt was reported as describing the games as "a bit shit", it wouldn't be hard for the cynic to find fault with aspects of the Games .

A common complaint is the standard of play isn't good enough for a high-profile international sporting meet.

And it's somewhat justified - even NZOC president Mike Stanley admitted fields had "a longish tail" - meaning the quality of the competitors could drop off quite deeply.

There are still mismatches in events where small nations send teams and individuals that aren't up to international standard.

Some see that as a sign of irrelevance, others revel in the travails and occasional unexpected joys of the plucky battlers.

Performances at Commonwealth Games are rarely at uppermost elite level - there's a notable shortage of world records set. Bolt graced the Glaswegians with his circus-like presence on the track for just 20 seconds, Mo Farah never made it and David Rudisha came when short of his best and paid the price.

Many competitors here don't place the Games high in priority for their long or short-term planning.

Diamond League meets are where the riches are for the best track and field athletes, while even the Kiwi and Australian swimmers were also eyeing next month's Pan Pacific champs that feature the United States team as a blue riband event.

But for others, the Commonwealth Games remains the pinnacle event of the year - or close to it. Lawn bowlers and squash players relish the chance to test their skills against most of the world's best.

It's also proved a boon for those Kiwis competing in lower profile sports - judo, amateur boxing, gymnastics - who, chiefly through a lack of funding, may not often get the chance to test themselves at a high level.

Yes, the Games can be, in footballing terms, The Championship compared to the Premier League.

Or, back home, the NPC instead of Super Rugby.

But what's so bad about that?

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