1930 - Hamilton

The British Empire Games are born through the efforts of Canadian sports reporter Melville Marks (Bobby) Robinson

The man credited with having first thought up the “Commonwealth Games” is the Reverend Astley Cooper.

In 1891, the Englishman Cooper wrote an article in The Times suggesting a Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire".

However, it was not until 1911 that the first recorded Games between athletes belonging to the British Empire actually took place. This 1911 event took place as a celebration in connection with the Coronation of King George V and was known as the "Festival of the Empire".

As part of the festival, an Inter-Empire Championships were held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in boxing, wrestling, swimming and track and field athletics.

The winning country was Canada who received a silver cup 2ft 6in high and weighing 340oz. It was the gift of Lord Lonsdale. The 1911 Games however, were followed by the 1914-1918 Great War which appeared to end any hopes of a continuing sports event between Empire athletes. It was not until Canadian Melville Marks (Bobby) Robinson appeared on the scene that the first British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games) were formed. Bobby Robinson was born in Ontario, Canada on April 8, 1888 and is recognised as the founder of the Commonwealth Games. Robinson had a huge passion for sport and worked as a sports reporter for the Hamilton Spectator.

Robinson was also a sports manager and went to the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam as manager of the Canadian track and field team. While there, he lobbied hard for a proposal to hold the first British Empire Games in Hamilton in 1930.

Robinson’s dream was of an event that would bring together athletes from all countries of the British Empire. He worked tirelessly for the staging of multi-sport Games that would “enlarge the sport of friendly competition”. In August 1930, Robinson finally got his wish as 400 athletes from 11 countries that belonged to the British Empire took part in the first British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) hosted by Hamilton in Canada.

To help cover the travelling costs of for the visiting nations, the City of Hamilton provided $30,000 to the visiting nations. The events at the meeting comprised of track and field athletics, swimming, rowing, boxing, wrestling and lawn bowls. In a tight competition, England beat hosts Canada in the medal charts winning 60 medals, 25 of them gold, to Canada’s 54 medals, 20 gold.

It was perhaps a small revenge in response to Canada’s victory at 1911 "Festival of the Empire".

Date Games were held: August 16-24

Number of nations represented:11

Number of competitors: 400

Number of medals awarded: 165

comments powered by Disqus