It’s twelve months to the day since Kirsty Gilmour and Micky Yule led Team Scotland into the Alexander Stadium to kickstart the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
What followed was eleven days of incredible sporting competition, bringing together 72 nations and territories and over 5,000 athletes across 20 sports. The sporting schedule saw its largest ever integrated para-sport programme, and the first major multi-sport Games to have more events for women than men.
1.5 million people attended events at the Games, a new record, with millions more watching at home. BBC viewing figures were incredible, with the Games streamed 57.1 million times on BBC digital platforms and 28.6 million watching on TV.
I had the privilege of being Chief Executive Officer for the Games, and was a proud Scot on the side-lines watching our athletes do the country proud.
A sixth placed finish on the medal table, with a haul only bettered by the total from Glasgow 2014 – our athletes stepped up and shone on the international stage.
Medals were won across a record-equalling range of sports, including first ever medals in Women’s Artistic Gymnastics and Para Powerlifting, best ever results in Aquatics, Cycling and Triathlon, and a clean sweep of gold medals in Para Lawn Bowls.
Who could forget the magic moments from across the Games – from Eilish McColgan’s career-defining 10,000m win to a flurry of golds from our Boxing team on the penultimate day of competition.
Birmingham showcased so many aspects of what is great about both Team Scotland and the Commonwealth Games.
Our best athletes prioritised competing for us at the Games because of the pride they take in representing their country. It would have been easy in a congested year for some to take a break and miss the Games, but they all wanted to perform and win under the Saltire flag.
Our team of athletes and staff had representation from 31 of the 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland – truly representative of the nation spanning from Orkney to the Borders.
From 75-year-old gold medallists to breakthrough talents, a balance of gender, para and non-para athletes side by side – our team is diverse and one that everyone in Scotland can identify with.
The Games left a lasting impact on the West Midlands. It engaged local, national and international audiences alike, and will be remembered fondly by a city that is home to 187 nationalities from around the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.
The model of delivery for Birmingham, like Glasgow and Gold Coast before it, demonstrated a sustainable model for the Games. They all ran under budget and delivered significant value to the host communities – making use of good existing facilities, complimented by targeted investment to infrastructure that upgrades that can deliver value in future years.
Birmingham was delivered at a cost of £668.7 million, around half the initial budget for Victoria 2026. The revised figures being quoted last week were around five times that delivery cost and were difficult to recognise based on my experiences with Glasgow and Birmingham.
Their withdrawal from hosting was a shock to us all. Australia has been a great host of many successful Games in the past, so we had every confidence in their ability to deliver this time round.
We recognise the uncertainty it creates for our athletes and sports, and hope a solution is found to continue the momentum generated from three successful Games for both Team Scotland and the Commonwealth Movement.
Our immediate focus turns to Trinidad and Tobago, where 49 of our best young athletes will compete over the coming weeks across seven sports.
The Youth Games was founded in Scotland back in 2000, and has been a springboard for world-class athletes such as Hannah Miley and Josh Taylor in the past.
It also provides an incredible learning opportunity for athletes to experience a part of the world they most likely have never experienced before.
Good luck to everyone heading to the Caribbean – we look forward to you representing your country with pride.
Ian Reid CBE
Chair, Commonwealth Games Scotland