• A big deal... An emotional Chloe Hosking after winning the women's road race. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The Aussie gold rush on the Gold Coast got Anthony Tan a bit blasé and cynical - until a wheelchair athlete showed what this year's Commonwealth Games meant for people like him.
Cycling Central
16 Apr 2018 - 1:58 PM  UPDATED 17 Apr 2018 - 3:39 AM

"People say for road cycling Commonwealth Games isn't that big a deal. But you know what? I'm Commonwealth Games champion and it's a big f**king deal!" - Chloe Hosking

Another gold. Another Australian athlete. Another 'Australians all let us rejoice...'

Ho hum, ho hum. Anything else on the box, babe?

As the medal tally from the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast became progressively skewed in favour of Australia, I couldn't help but feel more apathetic towards the whole shebang. I asked my wife: watch another murder mystery, Bachelor in Paradise, another gold medal performance - or just turn the damn thing off?

Different athletes, different sports, but it nonetheless felt like Groundhog Day.

I wanted it to end. Soon as.

When one nation finishes with near-double the gold medal tally of the next-best, over triple that of the third-best, and more than five times the fourth- and fifth-best, what does that say about the standard of competition?

Or is Australia simply that good?

For what it's worth, the last two Summer Olympic Games, we came away with eight gold medals, slotting us into 10th (Rio 2016) and 8th (London 2012) place on the tally.

The Queensland government paid $1.5 billion to bring this year's Comm Games to the Gold Coast: "These mega events cost an enormous amount of money and you don't get the money back," Tom Hennan of Monash University told the ABC.

"The legacy will of course be debt. You are not going to recover that in terms of ticket sales, in terms of sponsorship, in terms of tourism."

Responded the rotund Gold Coast mayor, Tom Tate: "The legacy is about diversification of our economy... (such as) the uplift in international students' education, from knowing about the Gold Coast."

Until the past fortnight, far less attention has been paid to those with physical disabilities.

Sorry, Mr Tate, but doesn't the world already know about the Gold Coast? "Uplift in international students' education"? One would've thought if an international student was studying or due to study there, they would have researched the city beforehand... Or if you were simply a student from another country, I could think of a few better ways to "uplift one's education" on the surrounds, since most sporting fixtures are venue-based, an obvious exception being road cycling.

Does one now think of the Gold Coast as more of a sporting destination than before?

When so many of us including the movement's co-founder and now-Prime Minister have been advocating long and hard for our great nation to become an independent republic with an Australian - shock horror, an Australian! - as head of state rather than a tiara-wearing 91-year-old from Mayfair, I questioned the relevance of it all.

Not just road cycling. Not just track cycling. All of it.

Until last Tuesday, that is, when one of the Commonwealth Games' greatest athletes and supporters fired off an impassioned series of salvos after finishing second (yes, we're human, after all!) in the T54 1,500 metres final at Carrara Stadium, a venue that sounds like it belongs somewhere in the terroir of Tuscany rather than the glitzy Goldie.

"The crowd is loving it; the TV is doing a great job. Let's talk about it further," Kurt Fearnley, our greatest wheelchair athlete and flag-bearer at Sunday evening's closing ceremony, said.

The inclusiveness of able-bodied and Paralympic athletes was undeniable, and by all accounts was embraced by those on-ground, on social media, and watching from home. "Let's have that same conversation about what is happening here (on the Gold Coast) at home about our education facilities, about our transport, about employment," said Fearnley.

"Let's have this conversation on a greater level and let's make sure we can do something positive for what's happening right here.

"It's working, it's good, it's the right thing to do. Now let's use it as a pivotal moment. Tomorrow morning have that yarn wherever you are."

While much of the talk about injustice and inequality in and around the workplace has focused on gender, until the past fortnight, far less attention has been paid to those with physical or mental disabilities, or issues concerning racial bias. Sport can be a great leveller, and, through people like Fearnley, has the ability to push these issues into the spotlight - and importantly, force those in positions of authority to act on it.

While I myself have not transmogrified into a fully-fledged Comm Games fan, after hearing Fearnley and Hosking, whose experience last week clearly meant so much to them, I accept that it can mean different things to different people. If it provides a catalyst for change for people with disabilities, and for those who can assist or improve things for the aforementioned; if it encourages us to treat others more fairly regardless of disability, ethnicity or gender - then it is money well-spent.

So, yes, Chloe - it can be a big effing deal!

Hosking sprints to Comm Games gold
Chloe Hosking finished off a team effort to win a four-up sprint finish and Commonwealth Games women's road race gold medal.

In fairytale fashion Sunday, Fearnley, in his final representative appearance as a sportsman, would win the T54 marathon. As for the legacy the Games leaves, the mandarins charged with compiling said report have till 2022 to complete it - by which time those interested will have made a beeline for Birmingham, UK, where the next Comm Games will be held. How convenient.