Friday, 15 August 2014

Commonwealth Games Creativity – part 3 of 3

I inadvertently titled this post Commonwealth Games Creativity because within this transmutational group we have been discussing how to ring some changes to our blogs …

Dragons who can read long posts!

I could start with 'there be dragons', or more appropriately this be long! …

At and after the London Olympics one of the calls to the populace has been “Get Inspired” … the Commonwealth utilised the same ideas … there was the sport, but there were festivals, art exhibitions; the city had museums, parks, buskers … lots of interesting ideas and places to keep all amused …

I’ll share some of the inspirational stories that came from the Games, along with a couple of other posts that have appeared on my radar …

I wrote about the Cultural Olympiad being held during the London Olympics in 2012 which gave an overview of the Olympics and the Greek Olympiad … reminding us that originally the Greek Olympics were the “Pentathlon of the Muses” … and why the cultural element is an essential addition to a sporting games.  Hence think beyond sport … and what else can be learnt …

Get Inspired” is the slogan the BBC used at the Olympics and has continued on with other sporting events … however this article and particularly the title by-line made me sit up and realise it was so applicable to us …

“Maybe you’re great and you just don’t realise.  Maybe there’s a painter buried deep inside. A pianist? A pilot? A poet?” …. Stephen Way was a smokin’ and drinkin’ man – now he’s a marathon runner – and a good one … he’s also a healthy one you can read his story here on the Get-Inspired post … he came 10th in the Commonwealth Games marathon.

Note – the story-post could be used for our ‘get-on-with-it’ nudges … but it also highlights seven people who were late developers … it’s worth a read (I think) from many aspects.

Creativity was needed in a city that did not have an international athletics track and stadium … what to do? 

‘The Glasgow Solution’ – an out of the box thought … adapt one of the football stadia, where all the facilities were in situ … this solution is now being evaluated  as a way to deliver track and field sports events in other countries.

The surface was raised 1.9m (6’ 3”) on a bed of 6,000 structural steel stilts, flat-bedded, then covered with stone, followed by asphalt before the track and grass were laid … problem solved! 

Some views of the village can be seen here courtesy of “Insidethe Games” – sustainability was key for the organisers … some of the London Olympics fixtures and fittings were recycled …

Overcoming handicaps and rising to the occasion

An article on para sports with the emphasis on the Commonwealth Games can be found here.

An iphone copy

The Scottish man of steel – Micky Yule lost his legs in Afghanistan … but he competed in the Power Lifting – he came fourth, but as he said … there are other fixtures ahead to keep him focused and positive … and help him through the operations he continues to need (after 45 already) …

Another local heroine – Erraid Davies (13), a bronze medal winner in the Para 100m breaststroke, is the youngest ever medal winner … she struggled to walk and started swimming to help her rare hip condition (Perthes Syndrome).

Erraid in action ...

Erraid had not told her class mates that she was competing in the Games ... 

... and she was so excited about going home to show her friends her medal.  She lives 25 miles from her nearest pool in the remote Shetland Isles.

Which country speaks Gilbertese?  And who decided to live away from home for 4 years to achieve his gold?  The answers are the tiny Pacific island of Kiribati and David Kataotau who achieved his country’s first gold in weightlifting’s 105 kg Group A.

So pleased!

Another Kiribati – the teenager Taoriba Biniati had never been in a boxing ring before arriving to fight in Scotland.  Her national boxing club consists of a punch bag hanging from a breadfruit tree … know what one of those looks likes – look left or right!

Breadfruit tree

She has a fascinating history … it’s really interesting and worth reading to find out how she lives and then grabs the chance when she had one.  Check out Biniati’s story hereand see a little of Kiribati.

Kenya’s Vincent Onyangi had never swum in open water before diving into Strathclyde Loch for the triathlon.  Twenty minutes later he was bobbing around doing breaststroke while the leaders were onto their bikes and away …

Weightlifters need shoes … Fred Oala, a 17 year old 56 kg weightlifter from Papua New Guinea had to borrow a pair of shoes from a Clyde-sider – a volunteer – after his own footwear disintegrated.

Papua New Guinea
(Indonesia border as shown, Australia's
Great Barrier Reef to the east of
the triangular Cape York Peninsula of
the state of Queensland

His shoes were owned by two people before him and had been held together with yellow tape … he achieved a national record of 118 kg in the clean and jerk.

YouTube – how about learning how to achieve gold via YouTube?  That’s what Julius Yego from Kenya did … to improve his technique in Javelin throwing …

Rwandan cyclist, Adrien Niyonshuti, rode in the time trial – he is a Rwanda genocide survivor.  The 27 year old lost six siblings during the mass murders of 1m people in the East African nation 20 years ago.

While Dieudonne Disi, taking part in the men’s marathon, witnessed the killing of his entire family aged 14 and ran 50 km to neighbouring Burundi to escape the atrocities.  He came in 18th

an iphone pic
To uplift us a little: Cook Island competitors celebrate victory in lawn bowls … just by chance did their wonderful hats improve their bowling rolls?   Had to include these two cheerful ladies – I love their hats!

I’ve never got my head round the biased balls they use in lawn bowls … but you have to admire a sport that’s been around for 800 years … and is a core sport of the Commonwealth Games.

There are core sports and optional sports – selected by the host nation – subject to approval by the CG Federation.  Some team sports are/can be included.

Netball in action

There was competition in 18 sports (with 22 medal events for the Para-Sports up for grabs) … do you know what each one involves … here’s the Wiki Commonwealth Games link to check out each one …

Athletics – core event  (+ para medals)
Badminton – core event
Boxing – core event
Cycling – optional  (+ para medals)
Diving – optional
Gymnastics (Artistic) – optional
Gymnastics (Rhythmic) – optional
Hockey – core
Judo – optional
Lawn bowls – core (+ para medals)
Netball – core  (women only)
Rugby Sevens – core  (men only)
Shooting – optional
Squash – core  (the sport I enjoyed and played a lot when I was in South Africa)
Swimming – core (+ para medals)
Table Tennis – optional
Triathlon – optional
Weightlifting – core (+ para medals for Power Lifting)
Wrestling – optional

Ladies' Squash Doubles -
a devlish game!

Other sports are recognised … but only so many can occur in each Games …

Some more trivia questions - which might lead to a post or two – or provide an opportunity for some extra geography lessons (for you) or for your children?!
I believe this is the flat world!   With the
Commonwealth areas in colour

Where are the 71 participating countries?  At least I’ve given you a clue:

Africa – Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia.

Americas – Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Falkland Islands, Guyana, St Helena

Asia – Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka

Caribbean – Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island

Europe – Cyprus, England, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malta, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Oceania – Australia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuata …

Check out the country venues …

Barry Buddon Shooting Centre near Carnoustie Golf Course …

Strathclyde Country Park

Find out more about Glasgow, and how it started life as a fishing village way back when, then exponentially grew during the Industrial Revolution – being famed for the Clyde River and shipbuilding –  and becoming the second city of Britain for much of its history.

Love the logo
Culturally it holds its own in a diverse range of interests … museums, art galleries, universities, the largest public reference library in Europe, theatre, opera, festivals and performing arts, exhibitions … and as we can see plenty of sports facilities …

Well if I’ve bored you … what will a smile do? = bring out the best in most of us, brighten others’ lives and give our endorphins a lift …

... this will make you smile (I’m nearly at the end?!) … where next? Here’s where … Denise Covey is waiting to welcome us on the GoldCoast in Australia?!

Denise is with Nas Dean at the moment .. no doubt they'll check in in due course ... they're brushing up on their writerly skills, and then the chatterly skills!

Norfolk Island - looks good to visit?

A few of the many admirable, heart-warming stories of overcoming adversity, or just performing above and beyond expectations …

… or reminding us there are other places on this earth where excellence can be found, and where sportsmen who do succeed, do not want glory per se, but want to give back to their homeland and to their peoples … improving their lives and offering hope for a new future.

A Tunnock Teacake - cut in half or perhaps
bitten in half .. but not by me: though I did see
some in Waitrose and might buy some for
 the Nursing Centre staff for the Bank Holiday
Humbleness more often than not prevailed in ‘the Friendly Games’ … ‘the Everyman Games’ …

I mentioned Steve Way the marathon man who ran his way out of smoking, obesity and from alcohol … then this mathematician caught my eye … and again is an inspirational story that caught my attention …

A cooked haggis ready to be
eaten - not sure how the
mathematician got the haggis!
From “What it Takes to Win the World’s HighestComputer Science Honour” … it’s not about the Iranian lady recently recognised with the Nobel Prize … but the whole is applicable to those of us who wish to achieve … yeah he’s slightly cleverer … but this down-to-earth story is worth a read.

This is long … but we all need to think creatively and I hope some of you, many of you, can find some inspirational ideas here …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 11 August 2014

Commonwealth Games highlights from Glasgow 2014 ... part 2 of 3

Glasgow 2014 will be remembered for selfies, royal photobombs, those wee Scottie dogs, parties and some musical highlights …

The Queen photobombing the
Australian hockey players
Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris

... one of the unofficial anthems being the Proclaimers: I'm Gonna Be (500 miles) - with even Usain Bolt dancing to it before competing in the Jamaican's team 100m relay race ... 

Prince Imran, Malaysian President of the Commonwealth Games Federation raised the roof when he said in the local patois “Glasgow, you were pure dead brilliant” …

Nelson Mandela and Glasgow have been inextricably entwined in recognition … Glasgow awarded Mandela the Freedom of the City in 1981 …

Nelson Mandela with Brian Filling (1993) - a Scottish
anti-apartheid activist c/o BBC Scotland
(map of Glasgow in Scotland see previous post)
… then St George’s Place in the city was renamed to Nelson Mandela Place in 1986 … when it became obvious that the South African Consulate-General’s address was c/o Nelson Mandela – in apartheid days that was a sting in the tale.

Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony … celebrated plenty of tartan colours … heather landscapes, brooding Highlands with their darkened skies, then finally glens, lochs and forests …

A Scottie leading the Maltese team in ...  or
should it be out?!

… Scottie dogs led out each of the 71 teams … some bounded around happily, others collapsed in a heap and had to be carried!  The little Scottish Terriers stole the show …

… Tunnock’s tea-cakes danced …

All expressing the Glaswegian’s remorseless quest to imbue everything with a low chuckle … a music-hall type experience contrasted with London Olympics 2012.

Cardoons – aka Thistles … the mascot “Clyde” for the Games …

The Games – raised £5 million for the United Nations Children’s Charity via a Worldwide Appeal.

Commonwealth medals

Medals – weigh 100 grams, featuring overlapping rings …

Add caption

Podiums on which the athletes receive their medals have been crafted from fallen trees around the host city.  Fallen elm was used for the gold section and sycamore for the silver and bronze sections …

A quaich being worked ... 
Quaich – a traditional two-handled drinking cup, also made from the wood of trees that have fallen in Glasgow parks – were handed out to medallists instead of the traditional flowers or posies …

Pipes and Drums of the Scottish Regiments played their hearts out at the Opening Ceremony …

I’ve never heard so many bagpipe rounds played …

Ms Loch Ness Monster made an inflatable appearance …

Food and drink … customers’ curiosity took over: 

Deep-Fried Mars bars … the ‘dream’ of the athletes and visitors to the Games … to try this tasty morsel developed by the Scots.

The food is bound to be different to that in the Caribbean … understandably it doesn’t taste like home … we can’t all want to eat Jamaican goat curry – though I’d be happy too …

Haggis is big Games winner … I enjoy it ... not too often! … but it definitely has a place in the Scottish way of life ... another export over the centuries …

Shortbread and those Tunnock teacake sales surged …

Pouring Whisky - by
Erskine Nicol painted in 1869

Malt Whisky was and is always in demand – personally I can’t stand it … funny how our tastes vary!  

A fun time was had by all … cheers!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Commonwealth, the Games and some history - part 1 of 3 ...

Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good … the English noun “commonwealth” in the sense meaning “public welfare; general good or advantage” dates from the 15th century.

c/o Maps of the World: Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth) is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, most of which were once part of the British Empire.

The Commonwealth was first mooted in 1884 by Lord Rosebery, when as Prime Minister, he was visiting Australia, to describe the changing British Empire. 

Glasgow, Scotland's 2014 Commonwealth logo

An Australian born clergyman, the Rev John Astley Cooper, first proposed a “pan-Britannic” sporting contest in a letter to The Times in 1891 … 

... this failed to catch the public imagination, though did impress Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who realised the potential of a multinational sporting event … thus the Olympics were born.

The thistle - Scotland's national flower

Jan Smuts, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, presented a specific proposal in 1917 when he coined the term “the British Commonwealth of Nations”.

The model evolved as the Dominions (recognised as autonomous communities within the British Empire) gained more international prominence as a result of their participation and sacrifice in the First World War …

… resulting in full recognition as “autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth”.  The Commonwealth has continued to evolve with the times.

Glasgow, Scotland

The Olympic Games had been evolving and expanding … so that after WW1 the Olympics had a summer and winter Games.  Thus the scene was set for other national conglomerates to hold their own games, opening the door to individuals from smaller nations who could compete.

The inaugural 1930 Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, Canada saw 400 athletes from 11 nations compete in six sports: Aquatics (Diving and Swimming), Athletics, Boxing, Lawn Bowls, Rowing and Wrestling (freestyle).

Bagpipes in the Highlands
Often referred to as the ‘Friendly Games’ … but officially being called the Commonwealth Games since 1978.

Since 1994 team sports such as Hockey, Rugby Sevens and Netball have been added.

In 2002 Para-Athletes took part in ten events across five Para-Sports as part of the first fully inclusive Manchester Games.

The format is similar to the Olympic Games occurring every four years in between the Olympic cycle.

c/o and Available from the Flag Shop

Its purpose was obvious, to improve “goodwill and understanding” between the nations of the Empire … the Commonwealth has grasped the opportunity for multi-cultural democracy with its benefits of co-operation.

The Commonwealth does its best to unite its 53 members (71 different nations) and their 2.2 billion citizens behind the ideals of democracy and human rights, although sadly, some members fall short of those ambitions: …

… still it’s better those nations are not excluded and that the influence of our ideals are kept up front ... giving hope to the downtrodden.

Within the Commonwealth, all the nations are equal, and its egalitarian promise is so attractive that even countries that were never part of the British Empire have joined it … Mozambique and Rwanda ... 

There are lessons in sport … team spirit, individual achievement, the coming together of new friends from different nations across the world – a melting pot of cultures … new worlds explored … are all available to live and learn from …

… that humbleness of many successful athletes to return whence they came to help their own … to grow and expand in sport, in thought and in the possibilities of new horizons … connecting the old world with the new …

The Commonwealth has a place today of bringing hope to many and pride to small countries most of us have never heard of … let us spread this friendliness.

This post gives some background information … including a snippet about World War One … part 2 will feature some of the highlights …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories