- Associated Press - Sunday, August 3, 2014

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) - They traveled in search of recognition, knowing they were unlikely to return with medals.

At the Olympics, Norfolk Islanders must settle with being part of Australia’s vast team. But the Commonwealth Games, which end Sunday night, offered the tiny south Pacific outpost a platform to stand proudly on the world stage, competing under its own flag.

It hardly matters that the island has now collected just one medal from eight trips to the multisport event for former British colonies - bronze in lawn bowls in 1994 - because their hunger for competing is no less.

“It’s very important for national pride,” Norfolk Island Sports Minister Tim Sheridan told The Associated Press. “It’s the pride we are doing it representing the island instead of Australia.”

Sheridan - a direct descendent of Fletcher Christian, the ringleader of the 19th-century HMS Bounty mutineers who settled on Norfolk - has not just been in Glasgow as a government figurehead. He was on the bowling green as one of Norfolk’s 23 competitors here.

The island, which is 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) northeast of Sydney, was one of 71 teams from the former British Empire competing in the Commonwealth Games - disparate lands united by the link to British monarchy.

“It’s a chance for the lesser territories to show what they have,” Sheridan said. “It’s great to have the opportunity to play against the best in the world. The Olympics might be the world but at the Commonwealth Games we are one family.”

It’s a family that has presented itself as more united in sports than at the most-recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that was boycotted by many leaders because of host Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

“The games really galvanized the strong sense of community within the Commonwealth,” said David Grevemberg, who becomes chief executive of the games movement after running the Glasgow event. “There is a real connection.”

There were stirring stories: a first-ever games medal for Kiribati through David Katoatau’s weightlifting gold, English husband-and-wife teams winning mixed titles in table tennis (Joanna and Paul Drinkhall) and badminton (Gabby and Chris Adcock), and Sharon Firisua being cheered at Hampden Park as she finally crossed the line in the 10,000-meter final after being lapped twice.

“My aim when I was here was to see the queen,” said Firisua, one of 12 Solomon Islands athletes now preparing for a four-day trip home. “I am really glad and so privileged to have been able to have lunch with her.”

Queen Elizabeth II displayed her appetite for merriment in Glasgow, beaming into the camera as she “photobombed” a selfie being taken by Australian hockey players.

But the 12-day event required a global star to elevate not just the status of the competition within the Commonwealth but its relevance far beyond. And Usain Bolt was an electrifying presence at his first Commonwealth Games.

The world’s fastest man arrived to hero worship and brushed aside a media storm over reported disparaging comments about Glasgow before enchanting spectators with theatrics and speed as Jamaica’s 4x100-meter relay team was anchored to glory.

“The Commonwealth is special,” Bolt said. “Every experience is different, every city is different, and competing is what I love … even though it’s been a little cold.”

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