The Gold Coast is the location for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a 10-day showcase of elite level sport from 70 competing nations and territories across 23 different disciplines. It continues a big year of high-profile sporting events, which include the Winter Olympics held recently in South Korea and the Soccer World Cup in Russia in June.

Australia is no stranger to hosting the event, having previously held this privileged position five times in the past, most recently in Melbourne in 2006. However, this is the first time the Commonwealth Games will be hosted in a regional Australian city.

The Games have an illustrious history and are now firmly established as one of the major global athletics competitions. First held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930, they were referred to back then as the British Empire Games and have taken place every four years since, barring exceptions during the Second World War.

The event has grown exponentially during the intervening years; the first incarnation featured just 11 countries and 400 athletes compared to the 6,600 athletes and team officials from all corners of the Commonwealth who will be present in Australia this time.

And you need only look at some of the competing countries to see how the Commonwealth Games unites all those who fall under its umbrella. The Norfolk Islands for example, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is represented at the event despite a population of just 2,141. Bringing the Commonwealth ‘family’ together through sport and friendship is one of the main objectives of the Games.

It all kicks off on the 4th April with the opening ceremony taking place at the Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast. This will be the main venue for the duration of the games, hosting all the athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The other locations being used are Cairns (Basketball), Brisbane (Track Cycling and Shooting) and Townsville (also Basketball).

The Gold Coast itself has 13 venues, including Coolangatta Beachfront, which is hosting the Beach Volleyball, the very first time the sport has appeared at the Commonwealth Games. For the Rugby fans out there, Robina Stadium is the place to visit to catch all the Rugby 7’s action, starting on the 13th April.

Australia will be looking to regain top spot on the medal table (or more specifically, above England!), something they failed to achieve at the last Games in Glasgow four years ago. Prior to that, it was 1986 the last time they didn’t finish as number one. But there’s plenty of optimism that this year will see Australia triumph once again, with medal hopefuls Sally Pearson (100m hurdles), Olympic champion women’s Rugby 7’s team, the world champion netballers and Michael Shelley in the marathon all tipped to take home gold.

Whatever happens, it’s sure to be an unforgettable 10 days of sporting action and drama set to the backdrop of the Australian east coast.

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