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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”