Pave paradise put up a parking lot
Australia lost its face but somehow managed to gain face on the track. Sally Pearson, the face of the games, went out before the sweating but in her absence her team lifted.
Australia won 36 athletics medals. That was seven gold, seven silver and seven bronze able-bodied medals and six, six and three in the paras.
Compare it to the previous games in Glasgow where they won eight medals – six of them gold - with Pearson in the team and trumpeted the success.
The urging of the full stands at home was always going to lift performance and play a part. So too though has the timing of the meet. This is the only time Australia has had a games or championships held in its time frame at the end of the Australian domestic season and not in the middle of our winter.
So they should have done better and did, they had 25 athletes record personal bests and 15 season’s bests.
“For once we had an advantage and we took full advantage of it. Home crowds at the track was sensational and lifted performances no doubt,’’ head coach Craig Hilliard said.
“The biggest thing for me is they were well prepared and they delivered.”
The Commonwealth Games are a jolly time for Australia in all sports because we win regularly against a smaller collection of countries. In a smaller pool of countries Australia makes a big splash.
In athletics Australia still competes against a reasonably deep group of countries – the Caribbean countries in the sprints, the Africans in the distance running.
By way of comparison 10 countries shared the medals in the pool while 25 countries shared the medals in track and field. There are more countries with more athletes across disciplines on the track. Ironically it's athletics that swims in the bigger pool.
But what will this athletics effort translate to?
“It’s a young team - the average age was only 24 - and there's some athletes who really stood up another level so it looks very good for us looking ahead to Tokyo,” Hilliard said.
Kurtis Marschall is the bold new star who could become the face of the sport. The pole vaulter has started his career like Steve Hooker did, but he is younger than Hooker when Hooker did it. Hooker smiles excitedly as he says Marschall could be anything from here. His effort puts him in the world frame.
Georgina Griffith in the 1500m was superb and could be poised for the next level, a level Linden Hall is also moving into.
Credit there goes to the selectors who drew criticism for their team in choosing Joe Deng and Keely Small in the 800’s. Both of them were an unqualified success. Small was 16 and seemed unready after finishing last at nationals, but the selectors took a punt and it paid off. She is a potential star so credit where it’s due.
Brandon Starc’s clutch performance to again pull out the jump he needed on his last attempt showed his class while Henry Frayne in the long jump was a reminder of what he can do when he gets his body right.
Luke Mathews against an impressive 800m field won a bronze in the most unusual of races but in a manner that said he did not give up and seized an opportunity when it presented.
Rohan Browning missed out on the 100m final by a thousandth of a second against the eventual silver medal winner. Then to handle it with such class also pointed to the fact we have a sprint team that has ability to match its hype.
The excitement about athletics jollied the Queensland government into declaring they want to stage the World Athletics Championships on the Gold Coast as soon as they can. The next window is 2025.
Good. It's easy to see why they want to, for they put on a big event, people came and they tuned in on television.
That is encouraging but also begs the question why they didn’t think ahead of the legacy of these games. Today work begins turning the stadium back into the Gold Coast Suns football ground, which is understandable. What is not understandable is why the warm-up track outside cannot be left for athletics and instead is to be ripped up and turned into another car park for the Suns.
There is no athletics footprint left on the Gold Coast as a consequence of these games held in the home of Sally Pearson.
The games began just as tennis was announced to be moving to Nine and then cricket dumping nine and going to Seven and FoxSports. Sport broadcasting is changing, it can only be hoped those executives were watching what was well delivered by Channel 7 in prime time and had people tuned in.