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2014 Glasgow Games

An Introduction to the High Jump at the Commonwealth Games

No athletics competition, let alone the Commonwealth Games, one of the biggest stages of them all, is complete without one of the most prestigious and oldest spectacles in the history of human sport - the High Jump. The High Jump falls in the category of track and field athletics events in which competitors must jump over a horizontal bar placed at measured heights without the aid of any devices. The sport has been included in the list of events since the inception of the Commonwealth games (then called the British Empire games) in 1930 in Hamilton, Canada. It is conducted as a separate event as well as a part of the men's Decathlon and the women's Heptathlon. Javier Sotomayor (Cuba) is both the indoor (2.43 m) and outdoor (2.45 m) world record holder. Stefka Kostadinova (Bulgaria) has held the women's world record (2.09 meters) since 1987.

Contrary to popular perception, the High Jump isn't just about running up and jumping over a beam. The sport requires excellent technique and it comes as little surprise that athletes train for many years before performing on a stage such as the Commonwealth Games. There are 3 main segments of the High Jump: the run, the gather and the take-off. The run is basically the approach to the bar where the athlete has to achieve the required speed, angle and timing for the jump. The gather is the conversion of momentum from a fast run to a vertical jump. It requires great strength of the related muscle groups. The take-off, the final phase, has one goal, one all-out objective: To jump one's highest with an ignorance of all caution, without regard for possible injury or pain. Many techniques have been used by athletes in the past to attain the highest possible jump. These include the Straddle Jump and the J Approach, though the most widely used and most successful technique has been the Fosbury Flop where the athletes jump with their backs towards the bar.

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An introduction to Netball at the Commonwealth Games

Netball is one of the babies of the Commonwealth Games, having been introduced into the Commonwealth format as recently as 1998. It is a sport that originated in the United States and was derived from basketball. While basketball is considered more of a male dominated sport, netball is quite popular amongst a younger generation of women who got a lot of exposure to it right through school. Although it is played by both genders around the world, in the Commonwealth Games it is a women's only sport.

The rules of this game are similar to basketball where the objective of the game is to score points by throwing the ball into the opposition's hoop. Even though it is a limited-contact sport, a netball game can get as aggressive and competitive as any basketball match. In this sport, two 7 member teams try to pass the ball to a player who is within the opposition's goal circle and she tries to score goals. Unlike basketball, the team cannot score more points for a goal depending on the distance from which the shot is taken. The team that scores the most number of goals wins the game. The court is slightly bigger than the ones used in professional basketball with the longer lines called "side-lines" and the shorter ones called "back-lines". It is divided into three divisions or "thirds" in order to regulate the movement of players in accordance with where they are allowed to move. The players cannot move out of their thirds. Like in football, this sport has the four main positions of attack, defence, midfield and a goalkeeper. The goal hoops are at each end and are similar to basketball in that they are located on a tall post but are without backboards.

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An Introduction to Diving (Aquatics) at the Commonwealth Games

When men without wings and fins perform like a kingfisher catching its oceanic prey, one can't help but be amazed. This streamlined act of diving into water hasn't escaped the grasp of sporting glory. In fact, it's called Aquatics Diving. The sport consists of three categories depending on the height of the plank from which the divers jump into the water (1m and 3m Springboard, and 10m Platform). Another section of the event is synchronized diving in which the two categories are 3m Springboard and the 10m Platform. In this unique event, teams of two compete, and both divers attempt to perform identical and synchronized dives. In major events like the Olympics and World Championships, the only synchronized level is the 10m Platform. Athletes are divided on the basis of gender and age group.

Scoring in competitive diving has barely changed since it was first introduced in 1883 when the Amateur Swimming Association of Great Britain began a competition called plunging. Judges can give points ranging between 1-10 using increments of ½. The take-off, flight and entry have a maximum of 3 points each along with one point for the judges' personal flexibility. The score of a dive is calculated by adding the scores of the judges which is called the raw score. The total score of the dive is then calculated by multiplying the level of difficulty of the dive with the raw score. Difficulty of a dive is determined by taking into consideration the number of somersaults, position of the dive, number of twists performed, the approach of the dive and the height. It ranges from 1.2 to a 3.8. In most international competitions where there are more than five judges, the 3/5 scoring system is used. In this the middle five scores are used (highest and lowest are omitted) and then multiplied by 0.6. This is equivalent to the three judge scoring system.

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An Introduction to Steeplechase at the Commonwealth Games

The Steeplechase is one of the most interesting track and field events at the Commonwealth Games. It may not come with the glamour of some of the other events and it may not create the biggest stars but the endurance, speed and flexibility that it requires makes it a race to watch. It is an obstacle race based on the similarly named horse race in which the horses and their riders have to jump over a number of hurdles and water jumps. In the human version of the Steeplechase, athletes have to clear 28 barriers and seven water jumps over a distance of 3000 metres. Like many of the other long distance track events, this one too has been dominated by Kenyan athletes. Ezekiel Kemboi Cheboi, the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has done his country proud since winning his first medal in 2001 at the age of 20. The Kenyan athlete has been awarded 11 medals in 7 years including the gold at the Athens Olympics and the World Championships in 2009. Cheboi will be the man to beat when the athletes touch down in Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
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