Part of our event-by-event Commonwealth history series, we look back at past editions of the men’s high jump
The inaugural Commonwealth champion in 1930 was South African Johannes Viljoen, who won with a 1.90m leap. That height also secured all the medals in 1934 and again there was a South African winner as Edwin Thacker won on countback. Scotland’s John Michie took bronze. Thacker improved in 1938 to win with a 1.98m leap.
The Games returned in 1950 and Olympic champion John Winter won gold for Australia with a Games record 1.98m. Scotland’s Alan Paterson and surprise Nigerian Joshua Majekodunmi shared silver with 1.95m.
Africa did even better in 1954 as they took all three medals. Nigerian Emmanuel Ifeajuna, who was just 5ft7in (1.70m) tall, showed incredible spring to set an Empire record of 2.03m.
The 1958 gold also saw a first as Ernle Haisley won gold for Jamaica with a Games record 2.06m. Australian Charles Porter took silver followed by athletes from Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, all of who beat the leading Brits, who were again led by a Scot, Crawford Fairbrother, in seventh. With 27 competitors the final took six hours!
The 1962 event in Perth saw the home nation go one-two. Percy Hobson won with a 2.11m Games record and Porter took another silver.
Australia won again in 1966 through Lawrie Peckham and Peckham won another gold in 1970 as he moved the Games record up to a more respectable 2.14m.
The 1974 event saw Peckham clear 2.14m again but he had to settle for second behind team-mate Gordon Windeyer, a teenage Fosbury Flopper, who improved the record to 2.16m. Claude Ferragne took bronze but he advanced to win Canada’s first gold in 1978 with the Games’ first 2.20m jump. Scotland’s Brian Burgess won a share of a bronze medal to muscle in on a Canadian clean sweep.
If the high jump had languished way behind world and European standards in the first 11 Games then it went well into world-class in 1982. Canada’s Jamaican-born Milt Ottey improved the games record by 11 centimetres to win with a leap of 2.31m. However, he only won on countback. Bahamas’ Steve Wray entered the competition with a PB of 2.23m and improved that to 2.25m, 2.28m and 2.31m and then even joined Ottey for an attempt at a world record 2.35m.
Ottey won again in 1986 with a 2.30m jump and was pushed all the way by Scotland’s Geoff Parsons, who equalled his British record with a 2.28m. Although he only cleared 2.14m, Henderson Pierre became the first English medallist in this event as he shared the bronze.
Ottey and Parsons shared bronze in 1990 when Dalton Grant became England’s most successful jumper with a Games record and British record-equalling 2.34m. However, it wasn’t enough to win as Bermudan Nick Saunders, who had passed 2.34m after one failure, jumped a superb 2.36m in one of the best field event competitions in Games history.
The 1994 Games also saw a superb contest between Olympic bronze medallist Tim Forsyth and world junior champion and world bronze medallist Steve Smith. Both cleared 2.31m at the second attempt and failed at 2.34m and then in the jump-off failed at 2.34m again. They then cleared 2.32m again and then failed at 2.34m before the Australian won with a clearance at 2.32m. In his fourth Games Parsons won his third medal with a PB 2.31m.
Grant was fifth in 1994 but he finally won gold himself in 1998 to become England’s first champion with 2.31m. Compatriot Ben Challenger took silver ahead of Forsyth.
Grant was sixth in 2002 in his fifth final as Challenger was third and Mark Boswell (pictured) won gold for Canada with 2.28m. Though he cleared a modest 2.26m, Boswell retained his title in 2006 on countback from England’s Martyn Bernard.
The 2010 event saw a Bahamas one-two through Donald Thomas and Trevor Barry with the winner clearing 2.32m.
Gold medal winners
1930 Johannes Viljoen (RSA) 1.90
1934 Edwin Thacker (RSA) 1.90
1938 Edwin Thacker (RSA) 1.96
1950 John Winter (AUS) 1.98
1954 Emmanuel Ifeajuna (NGR) 2.03
1958 Ernle Haisley (JAM) 2.06
1962 Percy Hobson (AUS) 2.11
1966 Lawrie Peckham (AUS) 2.08
1970 Lawrie Peckham (AUS) 2.14
1974 Gordon Windeyer (AUS) 2.16
1978 Claude Ferragne (CAN) 2.20
1982 Milt Ottey (CAN) 2.31
1986 Milt Ottey (CAN) 2.30
1990 Nick Saunders (BER) 2.36
1994 Tim Forsyth (AUS) 2.31
1998 Dalton Grant (ENG) 2.31
2002 Mark Boswell (CAN) 2.28
2006 Mark Boswell (CAN) 2.26
2010 Donald Thomas (BAH) 2.32
Gold: Dalton Grant (Eng: 1998)
Silver: Alan Paterson (Sco: 1950), Geoff Parsons (Sco: 1986), Grant (Eng: 1990), Steve Smith (Eng: 1994), Ben Challenger (Eng: 1998), Martyn Bernard (Eng: 2006)
Bronze: John Michie (Sco: 1934), Brian Burgess (Sco: 1978), Henderson Pierre (Eng: 1986), Parsons (Sco: 1990, 1994), Challenger (Eng: 2002)
Most successful athlete: Lawrie Peckham won two golds and a silver.
Most successful Briton: Dalton Grant won a gold and silver in his five appearances.