The top ten most memorable moments in Commonwealth Games history
July 25, 2014 | By: High50

From the gay kiss in Glasgow to hotly contested medals and miracle miles, the Commonwealth Games always delivers drama. We look back on the greatest moments in the event's history


John Barrowman’s celebrated gay kiss at the opening ceremony of this year’s Commonwealth Games

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games have kicked off in style this week, with nine million of us watching the long, very long opening ceremony alone. Who knew there were that many Rod Stewart fans still around?

Although the games will have a tough time in matching London 2012 for excitement and global appeal, there will doubtless be some extraordinary moments that will rival the all-time best in Commonwealth history.

In fact, there has already been one kiss (see 10) that may well be the non-sporting incident that lingers longer in the memory than anything any of the athletes produces. 

Which of these special moments can you recall?

1. “The Miracle Mile”: Vancouver 1954

In 1954 the first two men to ever have cracked the four-minute mile were set for the race of a lifetime, against each other. This meeting between the world’s fastest milers, the immortal Roger Bannister versus John Landy, was dubbed “The Miracle Mile”. It remains one of the great races of all time.

2. A hurdle too far: 1974

Alan Pascoe congratulated himself on his 1974 400m victory with a not-so-chic celebratory fall over a hurdle not once, but twice. It didn’t stop him going on to have a great double career as an athlete and a pioneering sports marketer. The lesson? Never hurdle from the wrong side.

3. A small, but Precious victory: Edmonton 1978

In the 1978 Edmonton Games, South African-born Precious McKenzie, remembered for his distinctively short stature of 4’9, performed a historic lift, bringing millions of people to a sport they had never seen before in the process. At 77 years old, he’s still weightlifting.

4. The golden tie: Brisbane 1982

The thrilling dead heat between Allan Wells and Mike McFarlane in the 200m, making for the only gold draw in Commonwealth history, and a rare shared medal podium. Wells remains the last Scot to win Olympic gold at 100m.  

5. The unbroken record: Edinburgh 1986

Daley Thompson, the superstar English decathlete and Olympic champion, broke the Commonwealth record in the Edinburgh Games. His record-breaking score of 8,663 points still stands as unbeaten to this day. Today he would be as big a star as Usain Bolt. 

6. Steve Ovett’s last gold: Edinburgh 1986

In 1986 Steve Ovett won what would be his final gold medal in the 5,000m race. Not many athletes win golds at both 800m and 5,000m. But then Ovett wasn’t just another athlete. The Coe-Ovett era has never been repeated.

7. The most medalled man in history: Manchester 2002

The 15-year-old Ian Thorpe announced himself by winning four gold swimming medals during the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games, which was cited as “genetics gone bloody crazy”. In 2002 in Manchester he became the most gold-medalled male athlete in Commonwealth history winning six.

8. Kerryn McCann, marathon battler: Melbourne 2006

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia’s Kerryn McCann defended her Commonwealth title by winning gold in the marathon, just two years before she died of breast cancer. It remains one of the most memorable marathon finishes of all time.

9. Daley does Delhi: New Delhi 2010

Britain’s Tom Daley won double gold at India’s Commonwealth Games confirming his status as Britain’s brightest young sportsman, and an emerging teenage heartthrob. He went on to be BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2010.

10. The gay kiss: Glasgow 2014

In the 2014 opening ceremony in Glasgow, John Barrowman wowed audiences with an on-stage gay kiss, hoping to provoke the homophobic Commonwealth countries which criminalise homosexuality.