Canada slips off podium at Commonwealth Games

It was supposed to be an utter disaster.

If you ask some Canadians, it very well was.

At the close of the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, Canada finished fourth in the standing, compiling 75 medals – 26 gold, 17 silver and 32 bronze. Though the feat is not a total disappointment, Canada didn’t match its tally of 86 medals from Melbourne in 2006.

The failure to finish in the top-three marks the first time in 48 years that Canada didn’t reach the podium in total medals. Much of nation’s exclusion can be attributed to the strong showing from host nation India and its impressive 101 medals – including 38 gold.

“We did anticipate that [number] would put us into third place, we did not anticipate our counterparts in India to do as well as they did,” said Scott Stevenson, Commonwealth Games Canada sport director, to reporters. “We knew they’d do better than they did in Melbourne, but we didn’t anticipate them doubling their medal count. It really is a testament to the value of hosting a Games.”

Canadians should be able to relate to the added incentive of competing in front of their home nation as they experienced the same boost at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, finishing with the most goal medals (14) of any country in the history of the Winter Games.

“The value of hosting [the] Games can’t be discounted,” said Tom Jones, CEO of Commonwealth Games Canada.

“Call it the India Effect. We saw it in Vancouver earlier this year. But what the Indians did here is even more unbelievable.”

On Thursday the Games came to a close in the Indian capital, and despite early speculation on the preparation and organization of the event, most felt the hosts did an admirable job.

“I base everything on what the athletes say and we surveyed the Canadian team and every athlete told us they had a great experience here in Delhi,” said Jones.

Some of the athletes reiterated the same sentiment.

“These Games have been amazingly memorable for me and I will not forget India on so many levels, including the amazing job India did on security for us,” said Ohenawa Akuffo, gold medallist wrestler, to the Vancouver Sun.

In spite of the kind words, athletes and organizers won’t forget the criticism the Delhi organizers were feeling just weeks before the start of the Games. Though a number of nations threatened to pull out of the event entirely, the end was result was a positive experience for all.

“To me it’s a testament,” said Stevenson. “We all pulled together to get this thing on the rails again and thank God we did. It turned out to be a pretty good Games.”

Finishing atop of the podium was defending champions Australia with 177 medals – 74 gold, 55 silver and 48 bronze. While England rounded out the top-three after amassing 142 medals – 37 gold, 59 silver and 46 bronze.

The Games were officially handed over to Glasgow, Scotland, which host the 2014 event.