Six months on from Team Scotland’s greatest ever performance at a Commonwealth Games we’ve had a chance to sit back, reflect and review. Whilst you plan for success, you learn that there’s never anything certain within sport and it’s just great that so many people rose to the occasion – athletes, staff, volunteers and everybody around Glasgow – to make it the fantastic Games it was.
The fact that everybody was so keen for Scotland and all the other nations to do well, I think that’s the great thing about the Games. People were supporting athletes fromall over the Commonwealth. The first day of the Rugby 7s stands out. To be so close against New Zealand and then to beat Canada was brilliant from a Scottish perspective, but in between people were supporting Sri Lanka and Uganda, all of the teams, it was just something really special. I also remember sitting in the SSE Hydro on the first morning and looking around at an absolutely full crowd, spectators and Clydesiders, all happy and smiling watching Rhythmic Gymnastics. I knew then that no matter what else happened, before we’d won any medals that it was going to be the best Games ever!
It had been 12 years from the concept, through the bid and to that moment of walking out as the last team at the Opening Ceremony. I was at the back of Team Scotland and just stopping, taking it all in, that wave of noise and emotion just hit you as you went into the stadium, it was a really special moment. We always knew we were going to have huge support, we knew that there were full crowds but until you step out into the stadium to that passionate home support, you don’t fully appreciate the level of it. You didn’t hear it, you just felt it – just me and five million of our closest friends to share it with!!
What I learned most was how the Games touched so many people in ways that I hadn’t counted on when we first started planning. I was thinking very directly in terms of how great it would be for Scottish athletes to be there and perform – thoughts that had crystallised from when we were in Manchester for what was very close to a Home Games, though not quite the same thing. What really hit me was how much the wider community engaged in the Games, right from the Queen’s Baton Relay with the selection of those 4,000 amazing people who are doing great things in their communities, the 15,000 volunteers, the committed organising committee and Council staff and our team staff. All playing their part with a huge smile on their faces. That was the bit that was like throwing a pebble into a pond – you just see these rings going out everywhere and you can’t actually control where they go and who they touch. So many people interpreted the Games in their own way and so it turned from what was solely a sporting event into a national project, a national occasion that delivered so many different things for so many different people, sport, art, culture, tourism, economic regeneration you name it. Everything and everyone came together.
The position of the Commonwealth Games is very special, certainly within Scotland. It has something undefinable and special as an event that people love because it’s real, it’s close, it’s serious but doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Everyone here knows someone, who knows someone involved in the Games and I think what Glasgow did was to re-position the Games as that really important international event with its own style, much like Glasgow really. Yes it’s a pathway to other events, but even more so it’s a pinnacle event in its own right.
Commonwealth athletes and medallists are to be treasured and as the Scottish Government’s recent survey showed so many of our athletes made a real impact and have become household names. From Ross Murdoch and Erraid Davies in the pool to Lynsey Sharp on the track and boxer Charlie Flynn, along with judo’s Renicks sisters, so many of our athletes are proving a real inspiration. My hope would be that we have more people taking up a sport, or even just being encouraged to continue with the sport they’re doing. If you’re the only weightlifter in your school then that can be pretty tough and lonely but what the Games gave is affirmation that that is important, you can achieve across a wide range of sports and activities. The letters and emails after have been just brilliant saying we’ve changed people’s lives.
Six months on we’re now well into the preparations for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa and for the next generation who will have seen and felt the Glasgow Games, been in those stadiums or watched on TV, to have their chance come around so quickly is great. With that and preparations for Gold Coast 2018, including plans for a second site visit in March, we’re focussed and ready to go again.
We hope that all those people in Scotland who enjoyed following the exploits of Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014 will continue to support us and cheer on our amazing athletes as they prepare to travel to the other side of the Commonwealth and make us proud once more.