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Glasgow 2014: Which is the strongest Commonwealth nation?

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Glasgow 2014: Which is the strongest Commonwealth nation?
glasgow-2014-which-is-the-strongest-commonwealth-nation
When it comes to the Commonwealth Games, which nation is the most successful? Australia perhaps, given their proud Titans DaQuan Jones Kids Jersey sporting tradition and love of beating England at anything? South Africa, maybe? Or how about Canada? Wrong, wrong and wrong again. It's a remote island in the South Pacific which measures only 8.1 square miles in area (less than an eighth the size of Glasgow, which is about to host the 20th edition of the Games) and has been covered in bird droppings for thousands of years. A largely barren dot in the ocean, its 10,000 or so inhabitants are among the fattest on the planet. Diabetes is a major public health problem there. Yet Nauru, the world's smallest republic, has been by far and away the most successful sporting nation in the Commonwealth since they started competing at the Auckland Games in 1990. They have won 28 medals since then, including 10 golds. All have come in weightlifting. In a population-adjusted league table produced by BBC Sport, Nauru - which lies more than 2,000 miles (3,200km) north-east of Brisbane and financially relies heavily upon the mining of the phosphates formed by those seabirds - has been 45 times more successful than second-placed Samoa - 1,700 miles (2,700km) away to the south-east. So what's Nauru's secret? It all began in the late 1980s when a short and stocky teenager called Marcus Stephen "accidentally" discovered a sport which would ultimately see him win countless gold medals, become his country's president, have a chat with US opposite number Barack Obama at the United Nations, and meet the boss of the Commonwealth herself, the Queen. Looking back, Stephen - who would go on to claim seven golds and five silvers in his four Commonwealth Games between 1990 and 2002 - said he was "just a normal island boy, playing Aussie Rules football" before leaving for high school and university in Melbourne, where he also excelled in cricket and rugby. "It was by accident I did weightlifting - Australia had a development programme where all kids in Victoria would do the clean and jerk. "I won my division in my region http://www.titans.us.com/Marqueston_Huff_Jersey and got recruited by the Victorian coach. They never knew I was Nauruan until I became good." After finishing second in the Oceania Championships while still a schoolboy, he impressed in several other competitions. But there his story could easily have ended. As Auckland 1990 approached, there was a bit of a problem. While Nauru was a member of the Commonwealth, it had never competed in its biggest sporting event. After some intense lobbying by Stephen, though, Nauru was finally admitted to the Games family on the eve of the Games. Stephen, then aged 20, may have been Nauru's sole representative in New Zealand but he did his country proud. "I went there and hoped for the best and I trained very hard," he said. "I won a gold and two silver medals, and the whole island went crazy. When I came back home, the president declared a public holiday. "It was something special - the whole nation was listening in via phone as we did not have live television or radio. A Nauruan rang the island [from Auckland] and spoke on the phone. As each lift took place, they all listened in. After retiring from the sport, Stephen worked for Nauru's national bank before becoming an MP in 2003 and, four years later, president. That afforded him an exclusive seat at the world's top table, and an audience with "the very tall" US president Barack Obama. "Never in my wildest dream did I think I would meet such a person," he said. So what did the world's most powerful man say to one of the world's most powerful men? "We didn't say much but the usual pleasantries of 'hullo' and 'how is Nauru' etc. He is a busy man, which I can understand." Stephen continues to be heavily involved in sport on Nauru, and is currently the head of the island's Olympic committee, overseeing the next generation of talent. But is there more to it than a community simply being inspired by one of their own? Are Nauruans as ideally suited to the snatch and clean-and-jerk as Jamaicans seemingly are to sprinting? "Our build is perfect Titans Zach Mettenberger Youth Jersey for weightlifting," acknowledges Stephen, who despite standing only 5ft 3in (160cm) tall and weighing in at less than 62kg (9st 10lb) during his competition days, managed to lift 172kg - nearly three times his own weight and only 3kg off the then world record. "We are not a tall race but are stocky - we are pretty explosive too," Stephen explained. "We eat a lot of fish, which is the staple diet on Nauru and provides a lot of protein." But it's not just fish which gets most Nauruans salivating.

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