Husband vs. wife, dancing rakers and a Prime Minister competitor: Everything you missed at the 2022 Commonwealth Games

The 2022 Commonwealth Games have ended but there are still some great stories to be told from the tournament. Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Commonwealth games have wrapped up in Birmingham and Australia topped the medal table with 178 gold, silver and bronze winners.

However, some of the best stories of the tournament didn't happen on the podium. From husbands and wives facing off to David vs. Goliath battles, here are some of the stories that didn't make the headlines.

Husband and wife facing each other

Donna Lobban sized up one of her squash mixed doubles opponents on Thursday and played her first mind game. "I'm going to have to make a bet with him that if I win, he has to cook dinner for a month," she said.

She was about to contest a matchup professional sport rarely produces: husband vs. wife. Lobban, playing for Australia, was facing her Scottish, mullet-sporting husband Greg for a place in the semifinals.

"I have already started the mental warfare," she said.

"I've started to wind him up already. I was telling him we were fist-pumping when we got that draw."

The match did not disappoint. The spouses played on opposite sides of the court as Greg and his teammate Lisa Aitken dealt the first blow in claiming the opening game, but Donna and her partner Cameron Pilley stormed to 11-8 victories in the next two games to seal a memorable win.

The rivalry flamed out after the match. Greg embraced Donna, whispering in her ear that he was proud of her and to "go and win it now."

Meanwhile, Donna went back on her bet. "I don't know if I want him to cook dinner, actually. It's pretty grim.

"I should have made a bet that if I win, I get to shave off his mullet and moustache. I don't know why I didn't think of that."

A Prime Minister leads from the front... literally

On Day 4 of the Games, the island of Niue moved to a "Code Red" alert level for COVID-19, encouraging all of its 1,649 population to complete a rapid test.

Its prime minister Dalton Tagelagi was not on the island to deliver the message, though. He was in Birmingham competing in the lawn bowls competition alongside his 14-year-old son Tukala.

Tagelagi is a busy man. Last month, he was in Wellington, New Zealand, where he met prime minister Jacinda Ardern, discussing economic policies and their COVID-19 responses. He even threw his weight behind new Australia leader Anthony Albanese's climate policy. But they were not the only topics that were on his mind.

His upcoming participation in the Commonwealth Games arose during his news conference with Ardern. "I was hoping you wouldn't ask me about it," Tagelagi said.

It was Tagelagi's third Commonwealth Games -- his first since being appointed Niue leader in 2020 -- as Nuie lost every match it played in all singles, pairs and triples competitions.

But Tagelagi did manage to see some success. Niue won its first-ever Commonwealth Games medal in Birmingham through heavyweight boxer Duken Tutakitoa-Williams, who claimed a historic silver.

When David beat Goliath at Lawn Bowls

The Falkland Islands are not known for their lawn bowls prowess. Heck, they did not even have a team at the time of the last Commonwealth Games. They still do not have a lawn bowls green. The club started two years ago, with training sessions held in a carpeted corridor at the only high school on the island after classes have finished. Most of the time they do their best to dodge the cleaners.

"The tricky nights are when parents' evenings are on," team spokesperson Oliver Thompson told ESPN.

Their 18-hour journey to the Games was long enough -- the only way to leave the Islands is by a once-a-week military flight, typically to Cape Verde, before connecting flights to Birmingham.

But that did not stop one of the underdog stories of the Games unfolding. On Day 1, Daphne Arthur-Arnold of the Falkland Islands faced Tania Choudhury of India. It was a formidable matchup: Choudhury once narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at Delhi 2010.

In front of a 5,000-strong crowd -- double the population of the Falkland Islands -- Arthur-Arnold claimed a 20-21 victory. It was the country's only win in the sport all week.

Wrong Eric! Marathon contender misses race over naming issue

Kenyan marathon runner Eric Kiptanui was left surprised when he was not allowed to race in the marathon event, claiming later that officials had entered the wrong name.

Kiptanui, who placed third in the Chicago marathon in 2021, had the third-fastest personal best time of the field in Birmingham but was forced to watch the race from behind the barriers after a different name -- Erick Kiplagat Sang -- was entered instead.

The race was won by Uganda's Victor Kiplangat, who accidentally took the wrong turn, although it did not cost him the gold.

A Team Kenya spokesperson told ESPN there had been an "administrative issue" that caused Kiptanui to miss the race, adding that the Kenya Olympic Committee had apologised to the runner.

Taunting and revenge

Jamell Anderson, a star of Team England 3x3 basketball, looked into the crowd early in the tournament to see his wife Georgia Jones wearing a silver medal around her neck, which she won at Gold Coast 2018. She was taunting him.

"She is sat up there [in the crowd] with a silver medal around her neck, just to rub it in my face," Anderson said.

"Her medal is normally sat on the mantelpiece at home, but sometimes she makes me take it down and polish it."

And so it was time for revenge. Anderson was a part of the England side that claimed a thrilling gold, with teammate Myles Hesson scoring in overtime to snatch a comeback victory over Australia.

Anderson finally had his moment: "She will have to polish my gold medal now -- every single morning. When I get home, I'm putting it right next to hers. It's her turn."

'I want to rake free' -- Beach volleyball volunteers steal limelight

Perhaps the most headline-grabbing part of the beach volleyball contest was not the players, but the support staff. The matches were entertaining

But it was the rakers who made the biggest stir. Between points, the rake team, dressed in gold and blue staff shirts, would enter the court to prepare for the next point, only for a few to spontaneously dance to Queen's "I Want to Break Free." It surprised the players, crowd and even the commentators.

Here's the bit they didn't tell you: they were professional dancers. It was an idea created by Aicha McKenzie, who worked on London 2012 and a host of major events since then.

"It was just meant to be a bit of fun," McKenzie told ESPN.

The dancing became such a hit that two of the group made an appearance at Alexander Stadium in the long jump sand pit.

Solomon Islands suffer familiar fate, and heartwarming victory

The women's 5,000m took place on Sunday evening as track and field was winding down its final events. It had the largest track field of the Games -- 23 runners. One was called Dinah Matekali, who races for the Solomon Islands.

She didn't win. Although that was to be expected. After this week, the Solomon Islands have now come last in both the men's and women's event for a third straight Commonwealth Games.

Matekali's time was no slower than her usual pace, but that didn't stop eventual winner, Beatrice Chebet of Kenya, lapping her with over seven laps to go, nor did it stop Chebet and her true rivals lapping Matekali once more with three laps to go. She escaped being lapped a third time by just 20m.

Her final lap was run entirely alone -- all the other 22 runners had long finished. But the crowd clapped her home. First the top bend, then the home straight, back bend and back straight, each section standing to applaud her every stride. By the time she reached the finish line, the crowd was roaring.

The same thing happened in the men's 5,000m on Saturday when Rosefelo Siosi, again from the Solomon Islands, finished a full two minutes behind the winners. His last lap was as lonely as Matekali's.

Perhaps it sums up the Commonwealth Games -- historically nicknamed the "Friendly Games." After the race, Matekali's coach, Reginald Hou, told her well done. She told him that she was disheartened at running alone but that the crowd helped.

There was a lesson in all of this.

"It's all about finishing the race," Hou said.