The 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games began this week in the Gold Coast, Australia, marking another international event where the Canadian national team is proudly represented by a large contingent of U SPORTS alumni and current student-athletes. The 2018 Commonwealth Games opened on Apr. 4 and will conclude with the closing ceremonies on Apr. 15, 2018.
Australia is set to host the Commonwealth Games for the fifth time in its history, previously hosting the Games in Melbourne in 2006. The Gold Coast is major tourist destination in Australia, known for it’s sunny climate and surfing beaches. The main venue for the Games will be the Metricon Stadium in Carrera, a suburb of the Gold Coast, which is the home stadium for the Gold Coast Suns of the Australian Football League. The venue has a capacity of 25,000, but in anticipation of the Games it has been temporarily expanded to hold 35,000 spectators.
Of the over 5,000 athletes who compete at the Commonwealth Games, there are 80 Canadians with U SPORTS ties out of the 282-member delegation who will be representing their country this year. The biggest U SPORTS impact is on the women’s field hockey and men’s basketball rosters. The Canadian women’s field hockey team has 18 players, with 15 coming from U SPORTS programs. In men’s basketball, every player on the 12-man roster comes from U SPORTS schools, including this year’s Final 8 championship MVP, David Kapinga (Calgary), and fellow Championship All-Stars Manny Diressa (Ryerson) and Mambi Diawara (Calgary).
In other sports, 13 track and field athletes (alongside three triathletes who competed in track and field at the U SPORTS level), 12 wrestlers, 11 swimmers, seven players on the women’s rugby team, four women’s basketball players, and three beach volleyball players round out the U SPORTS contingent at the Games. Kylie Masse (Toronto) and Yuri Kisil (UBC) are both current U SPORTS student-athletes who were also members of the Canadian swim team at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Commonwealth Games are an international multi-sport competition held every four years between members of the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization made of current and former territories of the British Empire.
The Games were first held in 1930 as a way to increase goodwill and unity within the British Empire, and were first called the British Empire Games before transitioning to the Commonwealth Games in the 1970s. The Commonwealth has 53 members, but 71 teams will be participating in this year’s Gold Coast 2018 games, including 275 events in 19 different sports.