THE HISTORY OF THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES

Commonwealth Games was proposed by Englishman, Astley Cooper in 1891 as a festival “. Reverend J Astley Cooper was largely responsible for the concept of a sporting contest amongst the countries of the British Commonwealth.

He wrote an article in 1891 for the magazine Greater Britain, in which he suggested that a festival combining sporting, military and literary events that would draw closer the ties and increase the goodwill and understanding of the Empire. His suggestion generated a great deal of interest in Britain and the British Colonies.

The holding of the first recorded Games between Empire athletes coincided with the celebrations in connection with the Coronation of His Majesty King George the Fifth in 1911, and was known as the ‘Festival of Empire’.

A large and representative Committee, with the Earl of Plymouth as Chairman, arranged at the Crystal Palace Grounds in London a series of entertainment’s and exhibitions pertaining to the progress and development of the British Empire.

When the Olympic Games were in progress in Amsterdam in 1928, the splendid feelings of friendliness between the Empire athletes at that Olympiad strengthened the ideas for the revival of Empire meetings. In view of Canada’s victory in 1911, it was appropriate that it should have been through the initiative of a Canadian – M. M Robinson – that the British Empire Games took definite shape, and were revived at Hamilton, Canada in 1930.

Support was forthcoming from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, with the result that strong teams were sent to Canada. Teams also came from Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, British Guiana, Newfoundland and South Africa.

The success of the first British Empire Games at Hamilton in 1930 provided full proof of the existence of the spirit of comradeship and cooperation between members of the British nation and the world over, and will go down in the history of British sport as the achievement of all that is best in the sporting traditions of the British race.

During these Games, at a council of representatives of Great Britain and the Dominions and Colonies, it was decided that similar meetings should be held every four years in between the Olympic Games, and that a British Empire Games Federation should be formed. Accordingly, when teams throughout the Empire were gathered together at the Tenth Olympiad at Los Angeles in 1932, the formation of the British Empire Games Federation was further discussed and the Federation was subsequently constituted.

In 1952 the Federation was retitled “British Empire and Commonwealth Games Federation”. In Jamaica 1966 it became the “British Commonwealth Games Federation and in 1974 at Christchurch the title was again changed to the “Commonwealth Games Federation”.

In general construction, the Commonwealth Games are designed on the Olympic model, not in competition, but entirely complementary to the older series of Games, and, organised as they are between the Olympic celebrations, the experience gained should be of a real help to the Commonwealth athletes when facing the sterner trial of the great international meetings. The Commonwealth champions of today may well be the Olympic challengers of tomorrow.

4th British Empire Games 1950 Auckland

After the 3rd British Empire Games was held in 1938 in Sydney, Australia, there was lapse of 12 years, before the next Games was held in 1950, after World War II. Although at that time, Malaya was not yet an independent country, the British Government in Malaya allowed and organized a team of four weightlifters from Malaya to participate for the first time in the Games under the Union Jack.

The 4th British Empire Games was in 1950 was the first occasion Weightlifting was introduced in the British Empire Games. Based on results from local competitions and the China Olympic in 1948, Malayan Weightlifters were confident of winning medals at the British Empire Games. However, due to the absence of a sports organization affiliated to the British Empire Games Federation, the four Weightlifters had to pay their own expenses to participate in the Games.

The four Weightlifters return with one medal each. Tho Fook Hung won a gold medal in the bantamweight category with a total lifts of 655 lb and Koh Eng Tong won another gold medal in the featherweight category with a total lifts of 685 lb. Also Thong Saw Pak won a silver medal in the lightweight category and Tan Kim Bee won a bronze medal in the Light Heavy Weight category. The first participation in the British Empire Games could be deemed to be the most successful as the four athletes returned with a 100% record, with four medals from four events.

5th British empire Games, 1954 Vancouver

Due to lack of financial support, Malaya could not participate in the 5th British Empire & Commonwealth Games held in Vancouver in 1954. This was most unfortunately as otherwise, the Malayan Weightlifters would have repeated their victories in 1950. The winning total in the 1954 Bantam Weight category was 620 lb., which was 35 lb. less than the total of 655 lb. achieved by Tho Fook Hung in 1950. Similarly, the winning total in the featherweight category in 1954 was 690 lb., which was only 5 lb. more than the total achieved by Koh Eng Tong in 1950.

6th British Empire & Commonwealth Games 1958,Cardiff

For the 6th British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff, the Federation of Malaya sent a three men team, comprising 440 yards Athlete Rahim Ahmad and Weightlifters Tan Kim Bee and Chan Kum Weng. The team ended with one silver medal through Tan Kim Bee in the Middle Heavy Weight category and Chan Kum Weng in Feather Weight category. At the 6th British Empire & Commonwealth Games, Sarawak and Sabah participated for the first time with separate teams. Sarawak was represented by a team of three athletes while Sabah was represented by one athlete.

7th British Empire and Commonwealth Games 1962, Perth

The Federation of Malaya sent a large contingent, comprising 5 athletes, 4 Cyclists, 2 Swimmers and 3 Weightlifters to the 7th British Empire & Commonwealth Games held in Perth in 1962. The contingent of 14 athletes,
won only one bronze medal through Weightlifter Cheong Kam Hong in the Feather Weight category.

For the Games in Perth, Sarawak and Sabah again represented by separate teams. Sarawak participated in Athletics with five athletes while Sabah was represented by two athletes.

8th British Empire and Commonwealth Games 1966, Kingston

The 8th British Empire & Commonwealth Games 1966 was special to Malaysia in that it was the first time a combined Contingent which included athletes from Sarawak and Sabah represented Malaysia. It was the first time that Badminton was included in the Games and it was also the first time that the Games was held in the Third World, outside Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Having just won back the Thomas Cup from Indonesia, a couple of months ago, Malaysia was in a strong position to establish its Badminton supremacy in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games as well. A strong team of 6 Badminton players comprising two women were selected, together with 5 Athletes including one woman, one Swimmer, one Shooter and four Weightlifters.

As expected the Badminton team did extremely well winning two gold medals, in the Men’s Singles event through Tan Aik Huang, the Men’s Doubles event through Tan Aik Huang and Yew Cheng Hoe, two silver medals in the Men’s Singles event through Yew Cheng Hoe and in the Men’s Doubles events through Ng Boon Bee and Tan Yee Khan, and one bronze medal in the Women’s Doubles event through Rosalind Singha Ang and Teoh Siew Yong.

Other good results achieved were in the Men’s 220 yards athletics event and the Men’s 100 M. Breastroke swimming event, where M. Jegathesan and Cheah Thong Kim managed to enter the finals in their respectively events. Another good performance was achieved by Nashatar Singh who finished fourth in the Men’s Javelin event. For the first time in the Games, the Weightlifters failed to win a medal.

Weightlifters Chung Kam Weng, who represented Malaya in the 1958 Games in Cardiff, settled there after the Games. In 1966, Chung Kam Weng represented Wales in the British Empire Games in Kingston and won a gold medal in Weightlifting for his new country, Wales, in the Featherweight category.

9th British Commonwealth Games, Edinburgh 1970

The 9th British Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh in 1970, saw Malaysia participating in only 3 sports with a very much reduced team. For the first time, athletics was not represented, while there was only one Weightlifter. Malaysia participated in Fencing for the first time with three Fencers.

Badminton however, was represented by a full team of 5 men and 5 women, and met the confidence of the Olympic Council of Malaysia by winning one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The gold and the silver medals were won in the Men?s Doubles even by P. Gunalan and Ng Boon Bee, and Tan Soon Hooi and Ng Tat Wai respectively. Rosalind Singha Ang and Teoh Siew Yong retained the bronze medal in the Women?s Doubles event, which they won in Kingston four years earlier.

10th British Empire and Commonwealth Games 1974, Christchurch

The 10th British Commonwealth Gams was held in Christchurch, New Zealand in January 1970. The Malaysian Contingent was represented by 2 Athletes, five Badminton players, two Cyclists, one Shooter, two Swimmers and one Weightlifter. Again it was the Badminton players who won medals in their events. Punch Gunalan won the Men’s Singles gold medal and partnering Dominic Soong won the bronze medal in the Men’s Doubles event. Sylvia Ng won the bronze medal in the Women’s Singles event and with Rosalind Singha Ang as her partner, won another bronze medal in the women’s Doubles event.

11th Commonwealth Games 1978, Edmonton

Malaysia sent a contingent of 19 athletes to the 11th Commonwealth Games which was held in Edmonton in 1978. The Contingent comprised 5 Athletes, 7 Badminton players, 3 Shooters, 2 Swimmers and one Weightlifter. It was the women Badminton players who saved the day for Malaysia by winning both the gold and the silver medal when Sylvia Ng defeated Katherine Toh in the all Malaysia final in the Women’s Singles event. This was the only occasion in the Commonwealth Games when a gold medal had been won by a Malaysian woman athlete. The Men’s Doubles pair of Moo Foot Lian and Ong Beng Teong won the silver medal, while the team won the bronze medal.

12th Commonwealth Games 1982, Brisbane

Due to the rather poor results of athletes from other sports in the Commonwealth Games Programme, the Olympic Council of Malaysia decided to send only the Badminton team of 4 men players and 2 women players to the 12th Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982. The Badminton team managed to maintain its good record of winning a gold medal in every Commonwealth Games since Badminton was introduced in the 1966 Games, by winning a gold medal through Rasif Sidek and Ong Beng Teong in the Men’s Doubles event and a bronze medal through Rasif Sidek in the Men’s Singles event.

13th Commonwealth Games 1986, Edinburgh

Malaysia boycotted the 13th Commonwealth Games held in Edinburgh in 1986
in support of the member organisations of Africa, because of the failure of the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to impose economic sanctions on South Africa.

DID NOT PARTICIPATE

14th Commonwealth Games 1990, Auckland

Malaysia returned to the 14th Commonwealth Games in 1990 with a relatively large contingent totaling 16 athletes, who participated in 5 sports. The composition of the Contingent was 5 men and 4 women Badminton players, one woman Rhythmic gymnast, one cyclist, two men and one women athletes, and one men swimmer. As expected the Badminton players mad a clean sweep of the men’s events by winning both the gold and silver medals. Rashid Sidek won the Men’s Singles gold medal by defeating Foo Kok Keong, while his elder brothers Razif and Jalani Sidek won the Men’s Doubles gold medal by defeating Cheah Soon Kit and himself.

15th Commonwealth Games 1994, Victoria

On 22 July 1992, Malaysia won the right to host the XVI Commonwealth Games in Kuala Kuala Lumpur in 1998. As the next host, the Olympic Council in Malaysia decided to have a more visible presence at the XV Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 1994. As such, the Malaysian Contingent comprising 51 athletes to Victoria was the largest ever contingent to participate in a Commonwealth Games. The Contingent made up of 8 Athletes, 10 Badminton players, 2 Boxers, 4 Lawn Bowlers, 5 Cyclists, 7 Gymnasts, 12 Shooters, and 3 Weightlifters.

In Victoria, Malaysia continued with its domination in Badminton by winning gold and silver medals in the Men’s Single event, through Rashid Sidek and Ong Ewe Hock respectively, the gold and bronze medals in the Men’s Doubles event, through Cheah Soon Kit partnering Soo Beng Kiang and Tan Kim Her and Ong Ewe Hock respectively, the Women’s Doubles bronze medal through Lee Wai Leng and Tan Lee Wai and the silver medal in the Teams’ event.

Martin Guntali sprang a pleasant surprise by winning a silver medal in the Clean and Jerk event in Weightlifting in the 50 Kg. category. This was the first medal won in Weightlifting since 1962

16th Commonwealth Games 1998, Kuala Lumpur

The 16th Commonwealth Games Kuala Lumpur 1998, the first Commonwealth Games ever hosted by an Asian country; concluded with a spectacular yet a memorable event indeed. For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games all 70 Commonwealth countries took part in the World’s 2nd largest sports carnival; and the first time team sports are included. The contest which was declared opened by Malaysia’s king, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ja’afar, had Her Majesty Britain’s Queen Elizabeth gracefully concluded the two-week long carnival.

The brand new national sports complex (NSC) in Bukit Jalil, 20km south of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, saw most of the sports thrills and spills in action. The excellent infrastructure such as the Shah Alam Expressway (SAE), STAR LRT and Telekom Malaysia’s exchange (with a capacity of 10,000 lines) in Bukit Jalil enables efficient running of all events during the game.

Sports such as netball, cricket, hockey and rugby sevens were some of the team activities being included for the first time.

Malaysia collected an impressive medal tally of 10 Gold, 15 Silver and 20 Bronze medals.
Which ranked Malaysia into the 5th placing among the 70 other member countries

17th Commonwealth Games 2002, Manchester

Overall, the Malaysian Contingent achieved good results in Manchester. The final medal tally of 7 gold medals, 9 silver medals and 18 bronze medals was the highest achieved by a Malaysian Contingent to a Commonwealth Games, held outside Kuala Lumpur. The medal tally compares very favourably with the 10 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 12 bronze medals, won at the XVI Commonwealth Games, 1998, where Kuala Lumpur was the Host City.

Athletes in 9 of the 14 sports, in which Malaysia participated in won medals.  The five sports, which did not win any medal were, Cycling, Hockey (Women), Rugby, Table Tennis and Triathlon.

Lawn Bowls, Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, Squash and Swimming won medals for the first time in the Commonwealth Games. The gold medal in the Women’s Doubles Pair is the first gold medal won by a Malaysian women Doubles Pair in the Commonwealth Games.

Year Name of Chef de Mission Games Location
1950 Under Singapore Delegate Auckland, New Zealand
1954 DID NOT PARTICIPATE Vancouver. Canada
1958 Mr. Khaw Kai Boh Cardiff, Wales
1962 Mr. On Boon Tat Perth, Australia
1966 Mr. On Boon Tat Kingston, Jamaica
1970 Mr. Sum Kok Seng Edinburgh, Scotland
1974 Tunku Adnan Christchurch, New Zealand
1978 Mr. Thong Poh Yen Edmonton, Canada
1982 Tan Sri Khir Johari Brisbane, Australia
1990 Tan Sri Dato’ Elyas  Bin Omar Auckland, New Zealand
1994 Mr. Ally T. H. Ong Victoria, Canada
1998 Dato’ Khalid Mohd Yunus Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2002 Mr. W. Y. Chin Manchester, England
2006 Dato’ Seri Kee Yong Wee Melbourne, Australia
2010 Tan Sri Abdul Halil Abd Mutalif Delhi, India