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Athletics has been the major attraction since the Commonwealth Games, then known as the British Empire Games, were first held in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1830.

And unlike Manchester 2002, when the XVII Games will attract more than 4,000 competitors in 17 different sports, there were less than 500 entrants for six sports (athletics, bowls, boxing, rowing, swimming and wrestling) 72 years ago. And Canada and England provided 94 of the 131 athletes involved in track and field events.

The 100 yards (no metric measurements in those days) was won by England's Arthur Sweeney in a time of 10 seconds and there was also gold for England in the women's 100 yards, Eileen Hiscock winning in 11.3 seconds.

Interrupted only by the Second World War, the Games moved on to London, Sydney and Auckland before reaching Vancouver in 1954 where the Miracle Mile, featuring England's Roger Bannister and John Landy of Australia, captured the world's imagination. They were the greatest middle distance runners of their time, the only men to have broken the four minute mile, once regarded as an impossible dream. Landy, a man who could grind the opposition into the dust, against Bannister, the supreme racer.

And that's how it turned out - the Australian leading by ten yards at half-distance only to be overhauled in the final straight as Bannister once again went through the four minute barrier. So, too, did Landy in a race that will always be regarded as one of the greatest in Games history. If not the greatest.

Elsewhere in its rich tapestry, the Commonwealth Games has featured some of the greatest performers in athletics history, over 50 of whom have gone on to win either Olympic gold or a world championship crown.

Think Commonwealth Games and you think names like Herb Elliott, Peter Snell, Lynn Davies, Mary Rand, Mary Peters, Raelene Boyle, Don Quarrie, Daley Thompson, Dave Moorcroft, John Walker, Kip Keino, Steve Cram, Sally Gunnell, Cathy Freeman, Merlene Ottey, and so many more.

There will be more at Manchester 2002. The trick is to make sure you are there to enjoy a slice of the action. So count yourself in!

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