Skip to content

Guide to the Commonwealth Games

Jul 22, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

Usain Bolt Getty Images

It is the world’s only event that brings together Usain Bolt and lawn bowlers.

The Commonwealth Games are the biggest summer multi-sport competition outside of the Olympics, held every four years. This summer’s edition is in Glasgow, Scotland. The Opening Ceremony is Wednesday and the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 3.

In between, more than 4,000 athletes are expected to compete across most — but not all — Summer Olympic sports and a few non-Olympic sports, such as lawn bowls (which may be the hottest ticket in Glasgow).

The event does not have much exposure in the U.S. — not even TV coverage — since the U.S. is not part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Instead, the notable countries competing in Glasgow are Australia, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa and the nations that make up Great Britain at the Olympics, led by England.

The BBC has a more detailed day-by-day outlook, but here are sport-by-sport capsules highlighting athletes who might be familiar to the U.S. audience:

Track and Field (July 27-Aug. 2)

Usain Bolt is expected to race for the first time this year in the 4x100m relay, but not any individual races, after a foot injury forced him to pull out of earlier meets. Heats are Aug. 1, and the final is Aug. 2.

He could be joined on the relay by World Championships teammates Nickel Ashmeade and Kemar Bailey-Cole, but missing are the injured Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, who is just coming back from a doping suspension.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Olympic and World 100m champion, is, like Bolt, only expected to contest the 4x100m relay. She could be joined by two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown on the Jamaican quartet.

Individual event stars include Kenyan Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, the subject of a documentary being aired by the BBC on Tuesday night.

The eyes of Britain will be on Mo Farah, who is slated to attempt another 5000m-10,000m double after winning gold in both events at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships.

Then there’s the most dominant athlete in track and field — New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who has won more than 50 straight shot put competitions.

Swimming (Thursday through Tuesday; heats 5:30 a.m. ET; finals 2 p.m. ET)

Americans get the chance to size up the top competition for the Pan Pacific Championships (Aug. 21-24, Gold Coast, Australia). Australia, South Africa and Canada are among the nations that compete in both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs.

The Aussies sent their biggest stars to Glasgow, led by World champions James Magnussen (100m freestyle), Christian Sprenger (100m breaststroke) and Cate Campbell (100m freestyle) and the decorated Alicia Coutts.

South Africa boasts its Olympic champions, Cameron van der Burgh (100m breast) and Chad le Clos (100m butterfly). Canada’s roster includes Olympic and World Championships 1500m silver medalist Ryan Cochrane.

Gymnastics (July 28-Aug. 1)

The world’s dominant gymnastics nations — China, Japan, the U.S., Russia, Romania — aren’t at the Commonwealth Games. So, the focus goes to British gymnasts, who are divided among England and Scotland.

England features four of the five men from Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning team — Louis SmithMax WhitlockKristian Thomas and Sam Oldham. The fifth man from the Olympics, Daniel Purvis, competes for Scotland along with 2009 World all-around silver medalist Daniel Keatings.

There is one Olympic team champion in Glasgow, Australian Naoya Tsukahara, 37 and the son of the great Mitsuo Tsukahara, who won gold with Japan at Athens 2004.

Diving (July 30-Aug. 2; finals 6:30 a.m. ET and 1 p.m. ET)

The world’s best divers just finished the biggest meet of the year, the World Cup in Shanghai, but a few reconvene at Commonwealths.

The star is undoubtedly Tom Daley, the 2012 Olympic platform bronze medalist from England. Daley took fourth at the World Cup in Shanghai.

Cycling

England’s Bradley Wiggins takes part in the Commonwealth Games after not being named to Team Sky’s squad for the Tour de France, which he won in 2012 (along with the Olympic time trial). Wiggins will ride on the track — not the road — in Glasgow, and he will only do one event, the team pursuit on Thursday.

90-plus-year-old men set 3 world relay records at USATF Masters

Latest Posts
  1. Yuna Kim donates to Nepal earthquake relief

    Apr 28, 2015, 10:02 AM EDT

    Yuna Kim Getty Images

    The IOC will also provide assistance to the Himalayan nation.

  2. U.S. blanks Germany, keeps rolling at IPC World Sled Hockey Championship

    Apr 28, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT

    Adam Page Getty Images

    The U.S. has one more preliminary game left before the medal round.

  3. Missy Franklin on her dream relay, unusual autographs, ‘the worm’

    Apr 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    Missy Franklin Getty Images

    The five-time Olympic medalist also discussed getting to know Mark Spitz in a Q&A.

  4. Tanith Belbin, Charlie White get married

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

    Tanith Belbin, Charlie White

    Austrian Alpine skiers with eight combined Olympic medals also got hitched.

  5. U.S. crushes Russia in Sochi rematch at IPC World Sled Hockey Championship

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    Josh Sweeney Getty Images

    The U.S. is back on the ice on Monday night on NBC Sports Live Extra.

  6. Japan ski jumper Noriaki Kasai wants to compete past age 50

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    Noriaki Kasai Getty Images

    The 2026 Olympics could be particularly meaningful for ski jumping’s old man.

  7. Badminton star Lee Chong Wei receives backdated doping ban

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Lee captured silver medals at the last two Olympics but was stripped of a World Championships medal.

  8. London Marathon produces surprise men’s, women’s winners

    Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT

    Eliud Kipchoge Getty Images

    Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.

  9. IPC Sled Hockey World Championship starts Sunday; full broadcast schedule

    Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Sled Hockey Getty Images

    The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.

  10. Kirani James breaks Michael Johnson record at Drake Relays

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT

    Kirani James AP

    Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.

  11. Bruce Jenner: I’m a woman; Olympians react

    Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.

  12. Watch Drake Relays, Penn Relays on NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT

    Justin Gatlin Getty Images

    Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.

  13. Michael Phelps to move to Arizona with coach Bob Bowman

    Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.

  14. Simone Biles discusses Martha Karolyi’s team selfie, U.S. teammates, more

    Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.

  15. Sled hockey helps Josh Sweeney in his recovery (video)

    Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Josh Sweeney Getty Images

    Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.

  16. Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir headed to White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Kentucky Derby

    Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski Getty Images

    NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.