Commonwealth Games – Cardiff – July 1958
This July marks the sixtieth anniversary of the biggest athletics event ever to be held in Wales. The VIth British Empire and Commonwealth Games, as they were known at the time, were held in Cardiff in July of 1958; making Wales the smallest country to stage the Games to date.
The Games proved to be a success in every respect and crowds of 30,000 plus attended the athletics sessions. In the entire history of the Commonwealth Games only nine world records have been set in the athletics (three men’s and six women’s) and three of these were set in Cardiff back in 1958.
Anna Pazera of Australia broke the record for the javelin whilst the England team of Madeleine Weston, June Paul, Dorothy Hyman and Heather Young, broke the world record for 4 x 110 yards relay. South Africa’s Gert Potgieter set a new record for the 440-yard hurdles to become the first man ever to set a world record at the Commonwealth Games.
The highlight from a Welsh point of view was the silver medal won by John Merriman in the six miles on the first full day of athletics. There was a break with tradition at the closing ceremony, held after the final day’s athletics, when athletes were involved for the first time.
Previously only national flag bearers had been present at the closing ceremony of the Games. At the official closing of the Games, a recorded message was read from the Queen (unable to be present at Cardiff due to illness) in which she announced that Prince Charles, then 10 years old, would be created Prince of Wales when he reached 21; a landmark occasion for Wales as a nation.
Many thanks to Alan and Brenda Currie for providing the information on the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.
Alan and Brenda have many years of experience in compiling athletics records and statistics through their website www.athleticsstatswales.co.uk
The full article on the 1958 Commonwealth Games can be found here