The XX Commonwealth Games, hosted in Glasgow, have officially come to an end after 11 days of strong and friendly competition. Seventy-one Commonwealth teams participated in this year’s Games, with over 4,900 athletes competing in 17 different sports. Values of unity, teamwork, discipline and effort were on display in Glasgow, as athletes from around the Commonwealth competed to their best ability in front of thousands of spectators. These values were discussed by thousands of students participating in the 2014 Commonwealth Essay Competition of which the theme was ‘Team Commonwealth’.
This year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition was a great success, with over 9,000 entries from 62 countries and territories in the Commonwealth. The first stage of the judging process has been completed and the top essays have been identified to be sent through to the final judging panel. This year’s top entrants have shared inspiring messages regarding the values of sport. Many discussed the topic of ‘unity’, which has been seen as a valuable asset to success. A submission from one essay reads: ‘What cannot be achieved by a single soul can be achieved by a combined effort of masses’, while another expresses similar views and highlights the benefits of unity such as ‘commonality of purpose, lack of conflict, and thus an environment which encourages human development’. On July 25th, unity was illustrated during the Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final in Swimming, as Team Australia set a new Commonwealth Games Record for that event.
‘Team-building’ was another favoured topic during this year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, as many participants noted that it was important to work in partnership with others, to achieve a goal. A Junior participant discussed the importance of teamwork in regard to winning, stating that happiness came from achieving success as a team. Another participant, whose essay discussed the MH370 tragedy earlier this year, expressed the importance of teamwork during times of despair: ‘We shared tears, victories and triumphs. We considered ourselves as one single individual. We raised our voices together. We fought for the truth together. We became a family’. During the Glasgow Games, the importance of teamwork was exemplified when Scotland faced Wales in a preliminary event for Men’s Hockey. After the first half, Wales had much control of the game, leading 3-1. However, Scotland put their teamwork skills to the test in the second half and came up victorious, winning the match 4-3 over Wales.
One of this year’s popular Senior essay topics was ‘How can sport build peace in troubled communities?’. Participants chose to explore this topic in a variety of ways, including letters, poems, and imaginative stories. ‘Sport enables the flourishing of the values of humanity, the creation of community based on equality and it empowers the community to control its own destiny’, wrote a top Senior essay participant. Another entrant noted that ‘sport is a powerful tool that helps troubled communities to rebuild relationships by healing old wounds. It can ignite and rekindle the spirit of patriotism among people of a nation to achieve peace and progress’. Although many nations within the Commonwealth struggle with issues such as poverty, child marriage, and lack of human rights, sport can give people from troubled communities a sense of hope. This was the case for Adrien Niyonshuti, a Rwandan cyclist who participated in the Glasgow Games. Niyonshuti lived through the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which approximately 800,000 Rwandan citizens died in 100 days of fighting. However, years later, Niyonshuti has found a passion for the sport of cycling and has inspired many others within his country to do the same.
The Closing Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, which took place on August 3rd at Hampden Park, attracted 40,000 spectators to celebrate the end of 11 days of incredible competition. As Glasgow 2014 closes, it is important to reflect on the values that we celebrate in sport, whether it is unity, teamwork, hard work, determination or sportsmanship. These are values that we look forward to witnessing at the 2018 Games in Australia. In the meantime, here at the RCS, we look forward to reading the entries of the overall top winners and seeing in what ways this year theme, ‘Team Commonwealth’, has inspired them. The Commonwealth Essay Competition judging panel will gather on the 28th of August to determine the winners of the Junior and Senior categories; the results will be announced in early September.