Commonwealth Games: Why the Games still matter

The Commonwealth Games are almost upon us. But that doesn't mean everyone is enamoured of the greatest sporting competition in the world not frequented by the Americans, the Chinese, the French, the Brazilians, the Japanese ... you get the drift. Noted curmudgeon and sports editor Hayden Meikle wanted some questions answered, so - inexplicably - he thought racing-sports reporter, and lover of a good Scotch, Matt Smith would have the answers.

Hayden Meikle: Why should we still care about the Commonwealth Games?
Matt Smith:
Why not? It's perfectly positioned between the Olympic Games; it provides another outlet for our promising - or even top-class - athletes to get experience on a mini-world stage; we get to see some genuine world stars competing (albeit at a shocking time difference for us) and it gives us a chance to dust off our silver fern flags and wave them awkwardly at work. What? I'm the only one who does that?

HM: Yes. Yes, you are. Rightio, then, what are the must-see events?
The potential return of Asafa Powell to the sprinting ranks could have added some spice (enhancement-free, hopefully) to the men's 100m at Hampden Park, but the Jamaican team has already been selected.

Besides, the supersonic Usain Bolt - who has been recovering from injury - missed the Jamaican trials and did not want to take the place of a team-mate in the individual event. All that means is that the 4x100m relay is now one of the unmissable events - Bolt, Yohan Blake ... how quick will they go?

I'd love to tell you when that event is, but in true Scottish fashion, the organisers appear to have saved cash by not including an exact timetable for the athletics programme.

The New Zealand sevens lads will look to extend their dominance at the Commonwealth Games on July 26-27, and it's worth tuning in to the men's shot put to see Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill go head to head again.

And, if I was going to throw in another obvious one with a Kiwi slant, let's see how the Silver Ferns go in the AI (After Irene) era.

HM: What exhibition events do you think Scotland should have introduced if allowed?
I'm not afraid of indulging in stereotypes. Caber-tossing and various other Highland games spring to mind. Seeing as Scotland is the home of golf, and golf is making an appearance at the 2016 Olympics, why not a few rounds at the two courses at Glasgow Gailes Golf Club?

Also, apparently, the Scots are the reigning champions in Rock-It Ball, a sport which appears to be the illegitimate child of lacrosse, hockey, dodgeball and hacky sack. After several minutes of watching You Tube, I'm still none the wiser except for the fact it's now called VX. And maybe some snooker, as I imagine indoor sports are preferable even at the height of Glasgow's summer.

HM: Do you think Glasgow will do a good job of hosting the Games?
Sure. The Scottish seem like friendly folks. They were the ancestors of a fair few of us down this part of the country and we're all pretty lovely, right?

Couple of tips for athletes - deep-fried Mars Bars just before your event probably isn't a good idea, and don't hang around for too long as Glasgow has one of the highest mortality rates in Britain, whether it's from lung cancer, binge drinking, drug abuse or just your bog-standard, run-of-the-mill murder.

HM: How many medals will New Zealand win?
Our haul from Delhi was pretty impressive - six golds, 22 silvers and eight bronze medals.

You can lock in a gold for Valerie Adams, and our cyclists are a good chance of picking up two or three. The sevens boys will be tough to toss, and Nick Willis is hitting form at the right time, but has some handy African rivals to take on. Let's go with six golds, 15 silvers and 13 bronze.

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