Tonight, Eilidh Doyle became the first female flag bearer to lead out Team Scotland at an Opening Ceremony, as the 21st Commonwealth Games got underway on the Gold Coast.
Broadcast to over a billion viewers worldwide and to an audience of 35,000 at the Carrara Stadium, the ceremony welcomed 4,500 athletes on the eve of this month’s multi-sport spectacular.
The night began with lifesavers and indigenous performers who took centre stage during the ceremony, with the centre of the stadium transformed into an inland beach, where Ricki-Lee Coulter and Deltra Goodrem performed in the sand.
Towel-twirling dancers wearing board shorts and bikinis frolicked on the beach as Coulter performed from a deck chair, the setting awash with waves as part of a dazzling light show.
A didgeridoo orchestra, ballet dancers from the renowned Bangarra Aboriginal dance troupe and a traditional smoking ceremony also featured as part of a strong indigenous theme.
An estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide were treated to a celebration of Gold Coast beach life and indigenous culture in the three-hour showcase, with a giant effigy of famed white whale ‘Migaloo’, which passes the Gold Coast each winter, floated into the stadium as the ceremony climaxed.
But the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the procession of the athletes from the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories athletes. Children clad in floral rash vests and matching pink rescue boards ushered them all into the stadium, which was decked out with props including a Gold Coast lifeguard tower and surf boat.
First into the stadium as the last Games hosts was Scotland, led by Olympic, World and double Commonwealth medallist, Eilidh Doyle.
Excited to have been chosen by her peers for the honour, Doyle said: “When you’re the first country out, you just want to do a good job. But as soon as we walked out and we got a really nice reception, I was able to wave the flag and it was brilliant – really nice to see so many saltires in the crowd, a lot of support out there”.
“It was crazy. It was over really quickly. (Glasgow 2014 flag bearer) Euan Burton had told me to savour it and I tried to, but the flag was quite heavy. I was trying to enjoy it and make sure I was moving the flag. It just was amazing!”
There was universal acclaim for the event from fellow athletes and Para-Bowler Mike Nicoll said: “The Opening Ceremony has been fantastic. The atmosphere is brilliant and everyone is so happy to be here. Gold Coast has put on such a great show for us – it’s only made me even more excited to get started tomorrow.”
Triathlete, Erin Wallace also revelled in the occasion: “The organisers put together an amazing opening ceremony and it was just incredible to be part of it. I am really looking forward to competition now. After the Youth Games experience in the Bahamas last summer, I hope that I can continue to improve and achieve my personal goals.”
Competing in his third Games, Table Tennis Player Craig Howieson added: “It’s my third Games and my first time marching in the Opening Ceremony. It’s an incredible feeling and I hope it gives us a boost for the start of competition tomorrow.”
Other Scots to feature prominently in the Opening Ceremony were Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) President, Louise Martin CBE, former Team Scotland Rugby Sevens captain Colin Gregor and hockey player Rhona Simpson who are now both members of the CGF Athletes’ Commission and had the honour of carrying in the CGF flag.
In Commonwealth Games tradition, the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay concluded its journey tonight with Australia’s track and field star Sally Pearson carrying it on its final leg before handing it over to, HRH The Prince of Wales to read out the message it contained from The Queen and declaring the 21st Commonwealth Games open.
The sporting action gets underway at 09:00hrs tomorrow with Scotland’s Badminton players first to take to the court in the Mixed Team event against Pakistan.