Acclaimed sports writer from The Herald, Doug Gillon, arrived in Delhi on Tuesday in advance of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. On his first day in the city and after a precarious bus journey or two, he caught up with Commonwealth Games Scotland Chairman Michael Cavanagh.
Among various topics, the pair chatted about how much sport has moved on since Cavanagh’s own elite sporting days, the sterling effort put in by Scotland’s General Team Management and the passing of the Commonwealth Games baton to Glasgow.
Speaking about his own experience as a wrestler at the 1982 Games in Brisbane, Cavanagh recalled university campus accommodation which didn’t even have shower facilities – athletes had to wash and shower in Portakabins outside the buildings.
However, sport has come a long way since then, with increasing numbers of athletes turning professional. Professional athletes expect certain standards and Cavanagh paid tribute to the work put in by Scotland’s General Team Management in order to raise the standards of accommodation to acceptable levels for the Team Scotland athletes and officials.
“Our team managers went beyond the call of duty. They’ve done a great job for us, but also for the rest of the Commonwealth. I’m pretty clear things would not be as good as they are now if our guys, and a few other teams, had not made such a big stand.”
He continued: “Our block is fine. The dining area is fantastic and the food is really wonderful. The international zone is great, really massive, though if you look closely, they have obviously rushed it.
“It’s not the standard of finish we’d have, but the apartments are extremely spacious. Transport? There are still some issues. They’re going to have to sort them out.”
As Gillon and Cavanagh discussed, the organisers of Glasgow 2014 will be determined not to let similar issues derail their successful hosting of the Commonwealth Games. With building work having already begun and 70% of the infrastructure already in place, Cavanagh is confident that Glasgow is on schedule to successfully host the Games.
“Four years from now, when we do this at home, I think we have already learned a lot from Delhi. For me, I think we have already shown we are much better planned. We just do things differently, but I’m very comfortable with where 2014 is in terms of planning. The big advantage is 70% of the infrastructure being in place already.”
As Gillon alludes to, in four years time the Organising Committee will put on an athlete-centred Games when the world’s focus turns to Glasgow 2014. However, for the next two and a half weeks, the focus will remain on the athletes representing Team Scotland in Delhi.
The Games are due to start on Monday 4 October.