Commonwealth Games - 1962 Perth

Perth skyline. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The 2nd Time held in Australia

The 1962 Commonwealth Games were held in Perth, Western Australia. But at the time they were called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. They were the second Commonwealth Games to be held in Australia. (Sydney had hosted the Games in 1938.) They were held between the 22nd of November and the 1st of December 1962.

35 Countries Represented

Australia won the most gold medals. They won 38 gold, 36 silver and 31 bronze medals. This record was held until Canada broke it in 1978. But in 1978 there was one more sport and 75 more medals to win.

Thirty-five countries sent 1,041 athletes and officials to Perth. Australia had 208 athletes and 47 officials in their team. This was Australia’s largest number at any Games up until 1982.

Newcomers to the Games

Jersey was amongst the medal winners for the first time. The countries of British Honduras, Dominica, Papua New Guinea and St Lucia all took part in the Commonwealth Games for the first time. There were nine sports: Athletics, Boxing, Cycling, Fencing, Rowing, Swimming and Diving, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Perth at the time

Around the time of the Games, Perth and Western Australia were growing quickly. There had been lots of mining which had made Western Australia richer.

Perth became known as the "City of Lights" in 1962. This was because the first Mercury spacecraft had seen Perth with all its lights on at night.

It was going to be hard for Perth to host the Games. At the time they had less than 500,000 people living there. Also Perth did not have good stadiums for sports events to be held at.

Launch of the Mercury spacecraft. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

New Sporting Venues

An athletic stadium, swimming pools and velodrome (bicycle track) were all built for the Games. A village of 150 homes was built for the athletes to stay in. The Perth City Council gave land worth a huge amount of money for the village.

Swimming pool. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The purpose built Athletes’ Village was the best ever for a Commonwealth Games. The Western Australian Government ran a contest for the design of 150 modern homes. The houses were to be sold at public auction after the Games.

Perth's hot weather

During the Games the weather was very hot. It was also very dusty. It was over 40 degrees Celcius at the opening ceremony. It was this hot during the ten days of the Games.

This was unusally hot - even for Perth. Australian soldiers had to bring water into Perth. This was for competing athletes to stop them getting too hot and thirsty.

Medal Tally Of The Top 10 Performing Countries
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Australia 38 36 31 105
2 England 29 22 27 78
3 New Zealand 10 12 10 32
4 Pakistan 8 1 0 9
5 Canada 4 12 15 31
6 Scotland 4 7 3 14
7 Ghana 3 5 1 9
8 Jamaica 3 1 1 5
9 Kenya 2 2 1 5
10 Singapore 2 0 0 2

Australia's Medal Tally Breakdown

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Athletics 12 12 13 37
Boxing 2 2 4
Cycling 4 2 1 7
Diving 2 1 2 5
Fencing 1 3 1 5
Rowing 1 1 3 5
Swimming 15 13 8 36
Weightlifting 1 1 2
Wrestling 3 1 4
38 36 31 105
Games highlights

There were many Games highlights for Australia. Jeff Dynevor and Percy Hobson became Australia’s first Aboriginals to win Commonwealth Games Gold medals. Jeff Dynevor, a 25-year-old boxer, was not expected to win. Percy Hobson won the men’s High Jump. His jump was the equal highest ever. He jumped 6 feet 11 inches (211 centimetres).

Dawn Fraser and Murray Rose each won four gold medals. At the Perth Games Dawn Fraser won four gold medals. She won the 110 yard freestyle, the 440 yards freestyle, 4 by 110 yards freestyle relay and the 4x 110 yards medley relay. Dawn Fraser is one of the greatest female swimmers ever.

Trevor Bickle won the Commonwealth Games pole vault gold medal twice. He was only 19 years old when he won at the Perth Games. He pole-vaulted 4 metres and 41 centimetres (14 feet 9 inches). Four years later he won gold in Kingston, Jamaica. This time he pole-vaulted 4 metres and 8 centimetres (15 feet 9 inches).

The Opening and Closing Ceremony

A crowd of more than 50,000 turned out to see Prince Philip open the Games. Both the opening and closing ceremonies were held in the Perry Lakes Stadium.

The closing ceremony had lots of action. The athletes marched out arm in arm. Welsh boxer, Rocky James, stood on the podium (the stage where athletes are present medals). From there he led 700 people in singing the famous Australian song, “Waltzing Matilda”.

The Perth Games helped raise the interest of Perth's people in sport. It also left the city with many good, new facilities to play and watch sports at.

References & Sources

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