You always live in a bubble at the Commonwealth Games, so none of us are very sure what’s been going on at home, or how events in Delhi have been reported.
What we do know, though, is that these Games have been a success for Team Scotland – different to Melbourne four years ago, but certainly a success in so many ways, from the performances of our younger athletes, to the leadership qualities demonstrated by our more experienced ones, to the final medals table.
There were well-documented challenges in Delhi, and difficult circumstances, but we delivered medals each day, which gave us momentum. In that sense it has been similar to Melbourne, but in 2006 there was a medal rush at the start, whereas here it built towards a crescendo. There has been a different pace, but there’s a real sense here that we’ve finished on a high, which is a nice feeling.
Several things stick out for me. In spite of all the issues in the build-up to the Games, what has struck me is the real passion and sense of fairness of the Indian people we’ve been working with.
The guy who has driven my car, for example, greeted me every morning with a smile, and he would still be smiling last thing at night. The people have been friendly, eager to help, and – even in some frustrating situtations – their warmth, calmness and keenness to help, will stand as an abiding memory. There’s also been an enthusiasm for the Games from the people of Delhi that Glasgow can be inspired by and build on for 2014.
My most memorable Team Scotland moments have not necessarily been gold medal moments. Peter Kirkbride, the weightlifter, has been with us since the 2006 Commonwealth Youth Games, and that in itself is a source of pride, since the Youth Games began as our concept, with the first games held in Edinburgh in 2000.
Here in Delhi Peter won a silver medal, missing gold by a kilo. But his confidence, his technical ability, the way he commanded the stage, and the joy he felt at winning a medal for Scotland, were immense.
Then there was Steph Twell, who ran such a mature race in the 1500m, where she also won a silver medal. Again, her pride at winning that medal – her sense of sheer joy – was wonderful to witness.
David Millar made a big impression. Here is a truly world class athlete who was embraced by the team, and who embraced the team back. He’s a guy who’s been open about his past mistakes, but who we believed had something positive to offer the team – and I feel that confidence was vindicated here. His delight at winning a bronze medal in the road race – before his gold in the time trial – really struck me, as did his professionalism and his leadership qualities.
Another, younger David stepped up to the plate and proved his leadership qualities here in Delhi: David Carry. In the past, the swimmers haven’t been able to stay on for the rest of the Games after competing in the first week. But this time most of them did, and David proved a real talisman – he took young athletes from the Achieve 2014 programme on tours of the venues, and was fantastic with them: a real inspiration.
There are so many others – our shooters have been fantastic, for example – but for me a highlight was a reception we held in Scotland House towards the end of the Games, when we got many of our medallists on stage. As I watched them I thought about what a fantastic group they are – articulate about themselves and about their sport. These athletes deserve more recognition, and I hope Glasgow 2014 will give them that.
As in Melbourne, the spirit in the Team Scotland camp has been terrific, and perhaps the most satisfying thing about these games. Athletes who have finished their Games have been respectful and mindful of those who still had to compete – an example being our young diver, 14-year old Grace Reid, who was in action on the penultimate day, and also Martin Williams, our marathon runner, who had do get up at 4am on the final day.
Respect, friendship and professionalism – these qualities have been very evident in the team, among athletes, management and staff alike.
Having now witnessed the handover to Glasgow, I’m confident we can look forward with great optimism and excitement towards 2014.