When was the first Commonwealth Games? Year it started, host city, nations competing, who won - explained

The next chapter of the historic sporting event will be written in Birmingham later this month

The Commonwealth Games are a momentous occasion for athletes representing nationals and territories from across the globe.

A key fixture in the sporting calendar once every four years, the Games have a rich history of entertainment and sportsmanship.

Ahead of the 2022 Games in Birmingham, here is some of the history behind the competition, and information on one sport making its Commonwealth Games debut.

When was the first Commonwealth Games?

The Queen’s Baton Relay has been making its way around the UK
The Queen’s Baton Relay has been making its way around the UK
The Queen’s Baton Relay has been making its way around the UK

The Commonwealth Games have been woven into a rich tapestry over the years, and the first ever instalment of the Games took place in 1930.

The games took place over a week, from 16 to 23 August.

The inaugural games were held in Hamilton, Canada and were known as The British Empire Games, which is what the Games were called up until the 1950 Games in Auckland.

How many countries competed in the 1930 Games?

Eleven countries sent a total of 400 athletes to the Hamilton 1930 British Empire Games. Women competed in only the swimming events.

The participant nations were Australia, Bermuda, British Guyana, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

Which country won the most medals?

England topped the medal table with 61, including 25 gold medals, whilst second place went to host country Canada who won 54 medals overall.

Third in the medal tables was South Africa who finished with 17 medals including six gold medals.

New Zealand edged out Australia into fourth place, finishing on nine medals to Australia’s eight.

Which sports were played at the 1930 Games?

The Hamilton Games featured six sports: athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, swimming and diving and wrestling.

This equated to 59 separate events of sport.

This number has, of course, increased drastically over the years.

Where did the athletes stay at the first Commonwealth Games?

According to the Commonwealth Sport website, the first ever Commonwealth Games athletes stayed at a school.

Their website reads: “The athletes’ village was the Prince of Wales School next to the Civic Stadium, where the competitors slept two dozen to a classroom.

“Despite missing some basic comforts, the participants were unanimous in their praise for the Games and Hamilton’s hospitality.”

Who won the first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal?

The first ever gold medal winner at what was then called the Empire Games was a member of the home nation.

23-year-old Canadian triple jumper Gordon “Spike” Smallacombe picked up the historic medal.

Smallacombe was also the first ever athlete to receive their medal on a winners podium in any sport.

The concept of a winners podium was devised by Canadian Melville Marks Robinson, known to all as “Bobby”.

To find out more about this historic figure, visit the Commonwealth Sport website.

The changing face of the Commonwealth Games

Some of the most memorable sporting moments in history took place at the Commonwealth Games.

It is fair to say that the Commonwealth Games have drastically evolved over the past 92 years, in more than just name.

They have continued to grow and now involve around 400 athletes at each Games, and this will likely only grow.