Pure, Dead, Brilliant (ly predictable title)

Events, Glasgow, Volunteering

Remember that time Glasgow held the Commonwealth Games?


From the 23rd July to the 3rd of August 2014, it was the place to be. The city embraced the Games, the Games embraced the people and I embraced the opportunity to be right in the heart of the action. Well, Motherwell. Close enough.

The city looked (even more) awesome (than usual).

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Festivals, markets, Irn Bru tents (!), lined the streets as live musicians and street performers entertained the flocking crowds. Sports murals, displayed on the walls all over the city, ensured no one forgot what was happening, and regardless of the weather status, the city was alive, buzzing and marking the occasion.

On my last night in Glasgow, Anna Mac and I went to watch the last night of the athletics in Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden. In stark contrast to the beginning of the Games, the weather was pants. It was chucking it down.  ‘Welcome to the swimming event!’ volunteers had joked as the crowd collectively grumbled their way into the stadium. ‘Why does it always rain on me’ blasted out of the speakers as we arrived, drenched and dripping, to our seats. It was worth it though – unlike all of the previous nights which had consisted of finals interspersed with heats, the schedule for our evening was final after final. I became engrossed in every event, almost falling out of my chair as I, along with the rest of the Hampden massive, cheered on whichever UK representative raced around the track.

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The grand finale was what everyone had been waiting for – the appearance and deliverance of Usain Bolt. Worth the hype? Definitely. Pre-relay, he danced to the Proclaimers. During relay, he strided to an effortless victory, proving why he holds the title of being the fastest man in the world. Post-relay, he spent ages taking selfies (actually showing people how to take a decent selfie) and signing autographs for the crowd. I loved Bolt, Glasgow loved Bolt, the Games loved Bolt. Hoping to spot him in London, his part-time home apparently, any day now.

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Being a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games was my summer holiday. Though returning to Scotland isn’t my usual travel destination of choice, it was extremely novel to have the opportunity to relax at a home base and catch up with a variety of people, feeling a bit like university holidays, cut short by several months.

adam meets irn bru

adam meets irn bru

cat, menuo and the big G

cat, menuo and the big G

new nick meets clyde!

new nick meets clyde!

phil - the keenest clyde-finder of all

phil – the keenest clyde-finder of all

cheryl - my edinburgh symmetry on either side of the games!

cheryl – my edinburgh symmetry on either side of the games!

My love for Clyde continued throughout the Games but I failed to find all 25 statues. I’d argue I made a valiant effort though, particularly after trapesing through the pouring rain on my final day to add a few more to my number.

clyde and his clydesider

clyde and his clydesider

this is love

this is love

this one counts, right?

this one counts, right?

you’d think i’d get a free clyde for all of this promo i’m doing

cheryl - my edinburgh symmetry on either side of the games!

cheryl – my edinburgh symmetry on either side of the games!

The hope of these Games, similar to that of London 2012, is to inspire younger generations to get more involved with sport. Or, just more involved in general?? On Monday, having returned to my normal London life, I received a series of texts from Phil. Clearly, he had been inspired.

the inspired generation

the inspired generation

After seven years of build-up and anticipation, it’s a bit sad that the Games are over. Who knows if they will make it back to Scotland in my lifetime. But all good things must come to an end, and the enthusiasm by athletes, officials, media, public alike at the closing ceremony, signalled that the Games had been a huge success. It may be over, but it won’t be forgotten in a hurry, for the best reasons possible. As President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Prince Imran correctly, cheesingly, wonderfully stated:

“Glasgow, you were Pure. Dead. Brilliant.”

 

 

 

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Day 10: Clyde’s Siders

Volunteering

Hello stranger. I see you have a red and grey uniform on. That means you must be a fellow volunteer and being a volunteer means we have something magical in common. So, although it’s usually a bit odd to randomly start speaking to strangers, I’m going to start speaking to you.

Because after all, we are in Glasgow.

clyde’s siders: cat and mary, a colleague from work also volunteering at the games

Being part of the Clydesider community has been an amazing way to view and experience the Commonwealth Games. Whether it’s been in the queue to check-in at the beginning of a shift, or on the train to go home at the end of the shift; meeting up in the centre of Glasgow with a colleague from work who’s also volunteering; or chatting with the girls on my floor back at the halls of residence where I’m staying – there’s always a fellow Clydesider in the vicinity. We have all had very different experiences and contributed in many different ways but we are unified through our uniform, our enthusiasm, our common purpose.

clydesider mayhem at 7am

Yesterday (Thursday), I successfully completed my final shift as a Clydesider, at the time trial cycling event. The schedule of a volunteer: 5am wake-up, 6am bus-ride to make a 7.30am check-in. 8.30am bus ride to an unknown part of Glasgow in order to man a crossing point of the cycling route for approximately 6 hours to ensure no members of the public are on the road at the same time as the cyclists. Good day out? Definitely. Very random. But I enjoyed working with a new group of Clydesiders, blowing my whistle every time I saw a cyclist approach my very important crossing point, and generally feeling involved with the whole experience, although the time trial is the worst for having no idea who’s winning unless you can see it on the TV! (but thanks random member of the general public who let me watch it on their phone).

As if being involved wasn’t enough, Clydesiders have been given presents throughout the Games in order to motivate and reward efforts. It’s felt a bit like Commonwealth Christmas. The first present was a workforce limited edition towel featuring the symbols of all of the sports involved in the Games. Almost worthy of framing, in my opinion! Other gifts have included a Clyde USB stick, thistle seeds so you can “grow your own Clyde” (!), and a personalised volunteer-themed map of Glasgow, designed by Christine J Thomson. Not to mention our red and grey snazzy numbers, identifying us to athletes and public alike throughout the two weeks.

some of my fav glasgow 2014 goodies

some of my fav glasgow 2014 goodies

I was sad to finish my final shift but the Games aren’t over yet.
Tomorrow, it’s my turn to watch.

See you at Hampden!

My Friend Clyde

Glasgow

Whilst us volunteers enjoy our Clydesider status in our respective sporting venues, there’s one guy who’s popping up all over the shop. He’s always smiling. He’s sporting and pulling off a rather fetching purple hair-do. And all of his fashion is either Scottish or Commonwealth Games themed. It can only be one thistle.

My friend Clyde.

clyde and cat, pacific quay

clyde and cat, pacific quay

Inspired by 12 year-old Beth Gilmour’s original design in a BBC/Glasgow 2014 competition, Clyde, the official mascot of the Games, has been transformed into a multi-sporting genius and has been a hit with Clydesider and average Joe alike, though I’d still argue I am his biggest fan.

clyde and cat, river clyde

clyde and cat, river clyde

clyde and cat and clyde's relatives

clyde and cat. i even met the family.

clyde and cat, st enoch square

clyde and cat, st enoch square

clyde, cat and adam

cat, clyde and adam

clyde and cat, buchanan street

clyde and cat, buchanan street

clyde and cat, river clyde

clyde and cat, river clyde

hugging life-size clyde #starstruck

hugging life-size clyde #starstruck

cat, clyde and menuo

cat, clyde and menuo

clyde and cat, central station

clyde and cat, central station

clyde and cat, queen's street station

clyde and cat, queen’s street station

Where-ever I go, Clyde goes! What a guy.
Where else can I find him (he find me)?
Let me know!

#loveclyde

Day 6: Expect the Unexpected

Volunteering

There’s always an element of risk when you broadcast a live TV show. The risk that something won’t work, someone will say something they shouldn’t, someone or something will get hurt… And of course there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s live. People have seen it. There’s no going back.

Similarly, when you start a Commonwealth Games blog where your first main post has “Day 1” in its title, you’re setting up a risk of expectation. Expectation that there will be daily updates for each and every day of sporting action. Of course, I never explicitly said I would write on a daily basis but I will be honest – that was my intention. It’s only a ten-day long event after all and I was going to be there. At the heart of the action.

But then one should always expect the unexpected. And hey, it’s only day 6!

Let me explain.

On Thursday, after the excitement of the opening ceremony and not enough sleep, I joined the many other triathlon Clydesiders to check-in ahead of the men’s and women’s triathlon events. It felt like the hottest day of my life. In Motherwell.

the workforce check-in at 7am

the workforce check-in at 7am.

a colourful welcome

a colourful welcome

team sector 9

team sector 9

The events themselves went brilliantly. Strathclyde Country Park was packed with enthused spectators, the sun burned down with scorching temperatures making the location look more tropical than Scottish, and I had the honour of picking up all of the athletes’ bottles after they had finished drinking/drowning themselves with water on the running route. Oh yes, I picked up Alistair and Jonny Brownlee’s water bottles.

#claimtofame

tropical strathclyde loch

tropical strathclyde loch

catmac the volunteer and a few others

catmac the volunteer and a few others

the medal ceremony on the big screen

medal ceremony on the big screen

Of course, it was a triumphant day for England too as Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland won the first gold and bronze medals of the games and Alistair and Jonny Brownlee disappointed no one as they took home the gold and silver medals in the men’s event later in the afternoon.

At the end of our 10 hour-odd shift, we patted ourselves on the back and took an epic group photo of our massive team, so big we didn’t actually all fit in the one photo. What can I say? The triathlon Clydesider team was epic both in number and in awesomeness.

volunteer mound. spot the catmac!

volunteer mound. spot the catmac!

From early on in the day, I was feeling a bit off. Thinking it was a combination of the heat and a lack of sleep, I donned my super cool Glasgow 2014 cap, downed numerous bottles of water, and hid beneath a tree for as much of the day as I could. To cut a long story short, there was more to it and my symptoms were the beginning of a virus taking effect on me. The virus gradually got worse, forcing me to miss three of my volunteering shifts, and reaching a climax of a dramatic vomit marathon in my aunt and uncle’s conservatory on Saturday night. Ah, lovely. Happy Glasgow 2014 to you too!

Alas, it was not the Games I had hoped for, but on a positive note, at least I had quality TV entertainment throughout the virus (thanks, official broadcasters BBC!) and I’m so happy I was able to be part of some of the events. With a final volunteering shift ahead of me on Thursday and tickets to see the athletics on Saturday night, I’m determined to finish the Games on a high. Germs, you better stay away!

Day 1: Welcome to Glasgow!

Events, Glasgow, Volunteering

It’s a catchy song, right? You’ll know what I’m talking about if you watched tonight’s Glasgtastic opening ceremony. If you didn’t; get on it! I’m iPlayering it as I type. You could iPlayer it as you read?? (just a suggestion)

I watched the ceremony at BBC at the Quay, having been successful in acquiring some more (free) tickets to watch the opening ceremony. Got to love a BBC freebie, especially when they are as epic as this was!

back at the quay with some friends i just made so i'd have some kilts in my photo

back at the quay with some friends i just made so i’d have some kilts in my photo

As well as being the second time watching a show at the BBC’s pop-up festival, it was also the second time I’d watched the opening ceremony. All of the Clydesider volunteers were given two free tickets to watch one of the two dress rehearsals at Celtic Park, on either the Saturday or Monday prior to the opening of the Games. You can’t beat the real thing, but this was a pretty good freebie! (this seems to be a theme of my Games, should have called the blog CatMac gets freebies)

outside celtic park, the venue of the opening ceremony

outside celtic park, the venue of the opening ceremony

 

biggest tv screen in the UK apparently

biggest tv screen in the UK/europe/world? there’s definitely an impressive fact associated with this screen.

But back to the night itself. How much did you love the opening ceremony? Ok, it may have been a tad cringe-worthy. Cheese on toast as I like to say. But for me, it was perfect. From the giant kilt bus exit, to the giant dancing Tunnocks teacakes and Irn bru cans, and multiple references to the fact that  Scotland invented basically everything in the world. I loved the music and will be singing either “Welcome to Scotland” or “the rhythm of my heart lalalala” constantly for the rest of the Games. Infact, is there an opening ceremony soundtrack??

After an epic warm-up from gospel choir Soul Nation and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, I watched the opening ceremony on a giant panoramic screen beside the BBC studios. After the sunniest day in Glasgow’s history, the crowd were in great spirit and we were all basically #lovinglife

the crowd getting pumped with the red hot chilli pipers

the crowd getting pumped with the red hot chilli pipers

the red arrows made a cheeky appearance

the red arrows made a cheeky appearance

I’m so excited about these Games finally beginning and am so proud to be representing my home nation. But now to bed. Tomorrow, the sporting action begins!