Oh Dan! Could have been contenders, but our sporting dreams are dashed

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Mornings are suddenly meaningless, Dan.

Dawn after dawn, I – and, we can be sure, thousands of others – have lain awake, dreaming of gold, gold, gold, and debating which energy-sapping event would require the harshest training.

Australian gold medallists in 2022.Credit: Getty Images

Greco-Roman wrestling? Marbles? Farnarkling?

One morning, very nearly inspired to roll out of bed, I found myself thinking about trying a push-up … before realising the Games were not until 2026.

Plenty of time. Whew.

Suddenly, cruelly, the dream has been swept away.

Premier Daniel Andrews at Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium, which would have hosted some of the Commonwealth Games events, in April last year.Credit: Luis Enrique Ascui/The Age

What have you done, Dan?

All those blithesome memories of Commonwealth Games past. Matilda, 1982, winking saucily at the Queen in Brisbane. Oh, the laughter of a kookaburra and the cry of “coo-ee”. The medley of Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport/Along the Road to Gundagai. Who could forget the swell of national pride?

Imagine what we Victorians could have created in 2026 – alternatively, best not, considering what happened to that drone display for the Matildas that went haywire over the Yarra the other night.

Still, the Games haven’t really been the same since 1976, when the old lionhearted title was reduced to the drab “Commonwealth Games”.

Queen Elizabeth greets students from St Andrews School on a visit to Australia for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.Credit: Ben Rushton

They started in 1930 as the grand “British Empire Games”, when much of the world map was reassuringly coloured as pink as Barbie.

Even when World War II was over and Britannia no longer quite ruled the waves, the Games remained those of empire, and even when they got a little watered down from 1954 to 1966, they were still the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

You could just about guarantee the Queen and the Duke would steam forth in the royal yacht Britannia to attend the event in whatever dear little colony was hosting the show, assuming there was a harbour nearby.

Why, they were still the British Commonwealth Games for the first half of the 1970s.

The poor old British, let alone their vanished empire, have been banished from the title ever since.

It must rub salt into the wound left by the missing empire that upstart Australia has won more medals (2604) at the Games than every other nation in the Commonwealth, including England (2322).

Best, perhaps, not to pay too close attention to the niggling truth that the vast majority of Commonwealth competitor states have struggled to win more than a thimbleful of medals.

Only 15 of the 69 nations and outposts taking part have won more than 100 medals each, and 28 haven’t made it to 10 medals.

Cook Islands (1), anyone? Kiribati (1), Norfolk Island (2)? Or the Cayman Islands, home of some of the world’s leading tax dodgers? All those billions of dodgy dollars floating around, and there are only two Commonwealth medals to the Cayman name.

Here, in 2026, was another chance for Australia to prove its muscular superiority over a quarter of the world’s people – yes, yes, a lot of them from rather small and often less than wealthy parts, if we’re being fussy – and Dan has tossed away the chance of the great state of Victoria hosting such a triumph.

Ah, well. Clouds and silver linings: there’ll be a guilt-free sleep-in tomorrow for us previously aspiring Commonwealth athletes.

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