• Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

Hooked: Riyadh boxing exhibition shows sport’s growth

ByMary M. Ward

Aug 7, 2022

BIRMINGHAM: Legendary Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne lifted the curtain on the Commonwealth Games in spectacular fashion on Monday as dominating Australia once again celebrated their top spot in the medal standings.

Athletes took over Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium for a wrap-up party that also included UB40, Dexys and a tribute to Peaky Blinders, the world’s hit TV show about the city’s most notorious gang.

Birmingham-born Osbourne, known as the ‘Prince of Darkness’, brought the ceremony to a climax after emerging as the surprise act.

The show, celebrating Birmingham’s rise from the rubble of World War II and its emergence as a diverse and vibrant modern city, capped off 11 days of sporting action.

Earlier, six-time defending champions Australia ended their campaign in style, beating India 7-0 in the men’s hockey final to finish with 67 gold medals in total.

Host England finished second with 57 gold medals, ahead of Canada with 26 and India with 22, with parasports included in the medal tally.

Sporting powerhouse Australia has topped the standings at every Games since 1990 except 2014, when England finished first in Glasgow.

Australian hockey captain Aran Zalewski says winning the Commonwealth Games title is “tougher than you think”.

“We’ve won seven, but it’s not as simple as coming here and winning,” he said.

“There are so many challenges to win a hockey tournament.

“To end with a special performance like that, really clinical, was very nice.”

Elsewhere on Monday, Scotland’s James Heatly and Grace Reid won the mixed 3m synchronized springboard final, while English pair Noah Williams and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix took gold in the 10m event.

India celebrated a golden double in badminton.

World number 7 PV Sindhu won the women’s singles beating Canadian Michelle Li, while Lakshya Sen beat Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong to claim the men’s gold medal.

Sharath Kamal Achanta of India beat Liam Pitchford of England 4-1 in the men’s singles table tennis gold medal match.

“The best two weeks of my 40 years of life,” said the winner, who won three golds and a silver in Birmingham. “It can’t get any better.”

Birmingham 2022 CEO Ian Reid told a briefing earlier that the Games had been a huge boost for the city and surrounding area.

He said more than 1.5 million tickets had been sold, with most venues exceeding 90% capacity.

“One of the goals when we started was to put the city on the world map and instill that huge pride in everyone who lives in the area and I think we’ve achieved that,” he said.

“I think it can lead to much bigger and bigger things.”

Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Katie Sadleir said there had been “huge engagement” with the Games around the world.

She added that a number of countries had expressed interest in hosting future Commonwealth Games, including African nations.

She said Birmingham, which already had plenty of facilities, could be a model for the future.

“It’s certainly not something we want people to spend huge sums of money and capital investment on if it’s not needed and wanted by the country’s long-term plans,” he said. she declared.

The Birmingham Games made history by being the first to award more medals to women than to men.

Great Australian swimmer Emma McKeon became the most decorated athlete in Commonwealth Games history, with 20 medals, including six golds in Birmingham.

And the tiny island of Niue won its first-ever Commonwealth Games medal, a bronze medal in boxing for Duken Tutakitoa-Williams.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin presented the flag to Linda Dessau, Governor of the Australian state of Victoria, which will host the 2026 Games.

Martin said Birmingham held an event “unlike anything we’ve seen before”.

“We are emerging from one of the most difficult times in modern history, where the Covid-19 pandemic has separated us,” she said.

“Birmingham 2022 proved to be a special moment when we came together, when the power of sport to connect us was on display.”