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David Moorcroft's Commonwealth Games Memories
Double Commonwealth gold-winner David Moorcroft, Join In's Director of Sport, relives his favourite Commonwealth Games moments.
One of those for me was the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. I was 17 years old and a friend of mine and I made the journey to Edinburgh to witness a week or so of fabulous athletics.
It was my first experience of a major Games and of a large partisan crowd screaming for the local heroes. A Scot called Lachie Stewart won the 10,000m and the crowd went wild. Later in the week Ian Stewart (they weren’t related) won 5,000m gold and the crowd went ballistic.
I arrived in Edinburgh as a young aspiring athlete, but not too sure what I was aspiring for. As Ian Stewart hit the line I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve and a life-long love of the Commonwealth Games began.
From that day on I dreamt of competing in a major Games, and in 1974 I made the final of the 1,500m at the England trials for the Christchurch Games. Sadly I trailed in last and for the time being my Commonwealth dreams were very much on hold.
At the time I was a student at Loughborough University and remember watching the great Filbert Bayi from Tanzania lead from gun to tape in Christchurch to win 1,500m gold and smash the world record.
As of then, it was probably the greatest ever 1,500m race and behind Bayi, taking the silver medal, was the future Olympic champion and multiple world record holder, John Walker from New Zealand.
I won’t bore you with the next four years, but moving forward you can imagine how I felt lining up next to Bayi for the 1978 Commonwealth Games 1500m final in Edmonton. Yet another moment that shaped the rest of my life as I managed to just scrape past Bayi in the final 20 metres and win gold.
To beat one of my all time heroes made it even more special. I subsequently discovered that Bayi had recently recovered from a bout of malaria which wouldn’t have been ideal preparation for him!
It is special standing on top of the rostrum listening to Land of Hope and Glory being played, although it’s not so glamorous then spending an hour or two in doping control waiting to provide a sample.
Four years later in Brisbane I managed to win gold again over 5,000m and my Commonwealth Games career as an athlete was over.
I love the Commonwealth Games. Athletes from every corner of the world representing a huge diversity of nations and cultures, but all speaking the common language of sport.
Glasgow 2014 will be brilliant and I am sure the Clyde-siders will take over from where the magnificent London 2012 Games Makers left off.
I am also sure that sitting in the stands there will be a young athlete watching the action as I did back in 1970, and that might just be the moment that sets them off on a wonderful sporting adventure. They will never regret it."
Dave Moorcroft is Director of Sport for Join In, a London 2012 legacy charity that puts more volunteers into community sport. For further information visit joininuk.org