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The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind the Medalsby Brian Oliver
Synopses & Reviews
The Commonwealth Games are coming to Glasgow in July 2014.Following the roaring success of the London 2012 Olympics the spotlight is on these Games and excitement levels are high. Sports journalist Brian Oliver brings these often overlooked Games to life with fantastic stories of the athletes who have competed over the years. He delves into past games for the best tales, and interviews the key protagonists to unveil the highs and lows of this eccentric sporting competition.
Read the sad tale of Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the first ever black African, in any sport in any international event, to win a gold medal. High jump gold in 1954, a national hero in Nigeria, receptions on his return, his picture on the front of school exercise books. After the Commonwealth Games he joined the army, and in 1966 co-led a coup. He shot the Prime Minister dead (and a few others) but the coup failed and he escaped, driven over the border to Benin, dressed as a woman. Exiled in Ghana, where he was welcomed, he came back to fight for Biafra in the civil war, tried to broker a peace deal, was accused of treachery and shot by firing squad.
The 1986 Games in Edinburgh were on the verge of going bust and might not have happened but for the intervention of Robert Maxwell and, later, a very strange Japanese billionaire fascist. There was a mass boycott over a South African rugby tour, but amazingly the gold medallists included Ben Johnson, Lennox Lewis, Steve Redgrave, Steve Ovett, Steve Cram and Sally Gunnell. The Maxwell stories are fantastic. He fed his invited VIP guests at one function on Kentucky Fried Chicken straight from the bucket, and he never did put in much money.
The Emigration Games - the 1974 Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, were so good, and so happy, that 12 British competitors said they would emigrate. Britain was horrific back then and in 1974 there was a three-day week, 17% inflation, two general elections and a lot of deaths in IRA bombings. Six of those 12 actually did emigrate, and we'll talk to all of them still alive.
A fascinating insight into human tales of endeavour, success and failure.
How well do you know the Friendly Games?
Sports journalist Brian Oliver brings the Commonwealth Games to life with riveting stories of the athletes who have competed over the years. He delves into the best tales of the past and interviews the key protagonists to unveil the highs and lows of this idiosyncratic sporting competition.
There is the classic contest between Roger Bannister and John Landy just months after both had at last broken the four-minute mile, and the lesser-known struggles of one of Australias greatest swimmers, Dawn Fraser, against the petty-minded and all-male ‘silver spoon mob who ran amateur sport. Read the sad tale of Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the first ever black African to win a gold medal, in any sport in any international event. He won high jump gold in 1954 and became a national hero in Nigeria, but after staging a coup was arrested for treachery and shot by firing squad.
Find out why the 1974 Games in Christchurch, New Zealand were known as the ‘Emigration Games, and the story behind the bitter 1980s swimming pool rivalry between Englands Adrian Moorhouse and Victor Davis of Canada. There are many more, from that of 4-foot 10-inch weightlifter Precious McKenzie - who rose through brutal abuse and discrimination to record-breaking success and a dance with the Princess Royal - to the penniless and boycotted 1986 Games in Edinburgh that were ‘saved by Robert Maxwell and a bucket of fried chicken.
The Commonwealth Games is a fascinating insight into human tales of endeavour, success and failure.
About the Author
Brian Oliver was Sports Editor of the Observer 1998-2011, and co-inventor of Observer Sport Monthly. He worked for the Daily Telegraph 1983-98, was a Venue Media Manager at London 2012, and has an honorary doctorate from Brighton University for his contribution to sports journalism.
Table of Contents
1.The Empire Strikes Back (1930)
2.Dorothy and Debbie, and a difference of opinion (1938 to 1986)
3.The mile of the century. Bannister v Landy (1954)
4.The Precious one (covers 1966 to 1978)
5.Two greats denied greatness - Ian Black and Gert Potgieter (1958)
6.The Emigration Games (1974)
7.Dawn and Kathy, the controversialists (covers 1958-62, and 1990)
8.How bizarre (1986/1970)
9.This one will run and run (1970 but also mentions marathons in 66, 74, 78, 82, 86 and 2002)
10.Adrian and Victor, the Coe and Ovett of the pool (mainly 1990 but also 82-86
11.You lift me up - what is it with weightlifters? (covers 1954, 1982-2002)
12.Load! Aim! Fire! The gold medallist who killed a Prime Minister (1954)
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