September 15 - Dawn Fraser (pictured), one of Australia's biggest sporting icons, has backed a proposed bid from the Gold Coast to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Fraser, who won eight Olympic medals, including four gold, in three Games between Melbourne in 1956 and Tokyo in 1964, said she was supporting the bid because it would mean better aquatics facilities for the area, which is the sixth most populous city in Australia with a population of 500,000.

She said: "It's got to be done...the Gold Coast should put in a bid [for the Games] and I'm very supportive of it.

"The State Government needs to get involved and we've got to get people on side.

"If there's allocated land then we need the Mayor to get behind it.

"The Gold Coast is no longer just a tourist destination.

"The Coast needs a first-class aquatic centre."

The Gold Coast has produced some of Australia's best swimmers, including Grant Hackett, Jo Fargus, Meagen Nay and Daniel Kowalski, yet still lags behind other Australian cities in the quality of its swimming facilities.

Fraser's support will considerably help the campaign to bid for the Games, which is being led by the Mayor, the four-time Commonwealth silver medallist Ron Clarke.

Clarke, who also set 17 world records during his career, including the 10,000 metres, is due to be part of a delegation from the Gold Coast, led by the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, to New Delhi next month to meet with Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) officials to discuss the bid.

Australia has hosted the Games four times, most recently in Melbourne in 2006.

Clarke (pictured) said: "Of course I would support an aquatic centre.

"If we're going for the Commonwealth Games then we would need a first-class aquatic centre.

"At this stage it's up to the State Government though.

"The Premier is going to India in October to speak with the Commonwealth Games Committee.

"We'll know more about the bid and the aquatic centre then."

Other Gold Coast Councillors have thrown their weight behind an aquatic centre.

Dawn Crichlow said: "During the [2000] Olympics [in Sydney] we were lucky enough to get $4 million (£2 million) from the State Government to upgrade our diving facilities for the British team to stay here when they were acclimatising themselves before the games.

"I agree we need a first-class aquatic centre on the Gold Coast and we definitely need a better one if we're going to host the Commonwealth Games."

Several cities have already expressed an interest in bidding for the 2018 Games, including Auckland, which is currently undertaking a feasability study to decide whether to bid or.

Abuja, the Nigerian capital that lost out on the chance to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow, has already declared its intention to try again while candidates are also expected to emerge from Durban and Nairobi.

But an expected bid from Port-of-Spain collapsed in June after the Trinidad Government cancelled the Caribbean Games because of the swine flu epidemic.

A decision on which city will be chosen by the CGF is due in November 2011.

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