New Delhi [India], Apr. 21 (ANI): The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President, Louise Martin CBE, on Friday praised the success of the Games Athletes Programme (GAP) that led to five of the Commonwealth's smallest nations winning their first ever Commonwealth medals at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, earlier this month.
A record number of medal-winning nations and territories - 43 out of the 71 teams - took their places on the podium in southeast Queensland.
Five countries - Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, British Virgin Islands and Dominica - won Commonwealth medals for the first time; a direct result of the GAP development fund they received in the years leading up to the Games.
At a Commonwealth Sports Breakfast to cap off the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, England, the CGF President called on the 53 Government heads to capitalise on the "recipe for success" of the GAP initiative to help boost the prospects of sports development, and future medal success, in their own nations and territories at a momentous time for the Commonwealth.
"There was something for everyone at Gold Coast 2018, with five countries, some of the smallest in the Commonwealth, securing their place on the podium for the first time in history. On the Gold Coast, what we witnessed was Commonwealth sport at its very best - small states, island states, emerging nations and developed nations all vying for glory on a level playing field; the Games gave the Commonwealth a spring in its step at this hugely significant time for our family of nations," said CGF President Louise Martin CBE.
Martin also spoke of the CGF's commitment to development through the creation of its new charitable foundation, The Commonwealth Sports Foundation.
"The vision of the foundation is to centralise, focus and grow the development work of the CGF. Within the context of Birmingham 2022, there is a fantastic opportunity to nurture and develop sport right across the Commonwealth. The benefits of continuing, and increasing, our development work collectively will enable us to grow sporting capacity and competency in all Commonwealth nations and territories," he said.
The CGF Vice Patron, His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO, opened the event by speaking of the future health of Commonwealth sport following the successful Gold Coast 2018, and as the baton was passed to Birmingham for 2022.
"The 2018 Commonwealth Games were a wonderful example of inclusive, equal and fair sport. As a Commonwealth Sports Movement, we can be proud that the Games set the benchmark for gender equality with an equal number of medal opportunities for men and women. We can be proud that the Games included the largest-ever fully-integrated para-sport programme. We can also be proud that five countries won their first ever Commonwealth medals, providing us all with motivation to advance sport development across the Commonwealth as we look ahead to Birmingham 2022," he said.
The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Sport, The Right Hon. Matthew Hancock MP, who closed the event, said: "Sport has the power to change lives for the better and bring people together. The Gold Coast Games were a huge step forward for equality in sport, as the first major event to have equal medals for men and women. We also witnessed historic podium places for some of the smaller Commonwealth nations too. I am proud to witness the Commonwealth sports movement raising the bar for future sporting events".
The CGF premiered its new film, The Modern Commonwealth Part II at the Breakfast, providing guests with a glimpse of the Modern Commonwealth Sports Movement and its future ambitions.