Let the Games begin

By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org

THE MELBOURNE Cricket Ground came alive last night and three Gladstone sporting people were part of what was a brilliant Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

Australian boxing star Ben McEachran and assistant coach Mick Daly, in the company of Norfolk Island pistol shooting head coach Jim Cruise, took their place on the hallowed MCG turf with more than 4500 athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth countries.

The opening ceremony signals the beginning of 12 days of action-packed competition in a total of 16 sports.

But Melbourne deserved the first gold medal of the Commonwealth Games for daring to laugh at itself.

In true Aussie style the host city had a joke at its own expense ? before anyone else could.

The first sequence of the opening ceremony featured a green and gold tram flying into the MCG on white wings like some weird creation at a Harry Potter quidditch match ? a self-deprecating image that will remain when most others have faded.

Bringing it into play shared the exuberant and informal spirit of the Games opening with tens of thousands of Melburnians who couldn't get into the MCG.

Australia's sporting capital also featured the game it is synonymous with, the game that remains a dark mystery to each and every one of the other 70 countries here as its guests. All 16 AFL captains helped ferry the Games baton to its final destination, and the first of them was Sydney's premiership captain Barry Hall ? how hard must that have been for Melbourne to swallow?

The opening ceremony was intensely aerial; anything that could be made to fly did fly - trams, kids on skateboards, ducks, koalas, the lot.

No-one had much of a clue what it was all about, but it was fun.



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