Eleven days, seven years of planning and a lifetime of memories for every generation, it is safe to say that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games really were the ‘best ever’. For eleven days, all of our differences were put aside in the way only sport can. Whether or not you were young or old, sporty or not, or yes or no, the Games were nothing short of a success for the great city Glasgow as a whole.
It truly was refreshing to see the loss of such petty differences, old (firm) rivalries and the 18th of September as our famous city basked in the glory of her greatest ever spectacle. Dashed with a beautiful mirage of colour and unity, with her streets given the touch up she deserves, the tired old lady proved she still has an incredibly pretty face beneath the surface.
Glaswegians have a reputation for being some of the friendliest people on planet earth, as Billy Connolly remarks, ‘ask for directions and you will end up in the pub together,’ and the Games were no different, with every man, woman and child from all corners of the Commonwealth being made to feel well and truly at home.
Walking along the famous face of Buchanan Street, with a scurry of furious shoppers descending upon it, there was an entirely different feel to the air as the routine pushing and shoving for first place in the queue being replaced with a surprising test of patience. Instead, the fighting and competition for places was best saved for those who do it best. The world-class athletes of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Whilst the Games are often very much an afterthought as far as the true stars of the sporting world are concerned, more of an annoyance on the calendar than a truly sacred date, with the fear of injury plaguing their thoughts, the world’s elite seemed to lap up the Games for all they are worth and in turn, the Glasgow crowd enveloped them in their warm embrace.
Perhaps it was the thought of finally getting to try some of the infamous Buckfast that appealed most to the Road Race winner, Geriant Thomas, or perhaps the chance to see John Barrowman chase around grown men dressed as teacakes proved too irresistible to Usain Bolt. Whatever it was, the collection of world athletes who descended upon the Games was nothing to sniff at and the stars certainly delivered on their promises.
Usain Bolt may have stolen the headlines, for better or worse, but even if just to see the fastest man in the world dancing to the Proclaimers whilst wearing some tartan, he certainly makes a heavy claim for doing the Games justice. His performance under the dazzling lights of Hampden in the relay event engulfed the rowdy crowd in a united stance of admiration for a man who many said the Games depended upon. However it is safe to say, Bolt proved to be just one of the many crowning moments of the Games that will long live in the memory and with a record medal haul for Team Scotland, it is only just that the sport will stand out the most.
Finishing fourth in the medal table is no small feat, and falling behind to England, Australia and Canada is nothing to be ashamed of, and with nineteen gold medals in all, the Scotland team provided its greatest ever games for its very own people.
Before the Games and throughout the overdrawn buildup, the public looked toward them with both enthusiastic fervor and pessimistic mumblings, with small clusters of our famously cheery people determined that we would fail.
But, much like the Olympic Games of London silenced every single one of its critics; the great success of our athletes silenced the pessimistic few. But, unlike the London Games, where the nation faced an agonising wait to cheer for the first British athletes to dawn the famous Greek gold, the Scottish team hit the ground running and sprinted all the way to the finishing line. The moment the unheralded Kimberely Renicks claimed the first Scottish golden medal of the Games on the very first day, the nation let out a collective sigh of relief and a wave of tension was washed out to sea. At this moment, Team Scotland erupted into medal frenzy, with more and more medals collected than ever before. From Ross Murdoch’s shock victory on the first evening in the pool over his hero Michael Jamieson, the poster girl Eilidh Child’s battling silver medal in the women’s 400m hurdles on another bouncing night in Hampden, all the way to little Erriad Davies’ surprise bronze in the pool and her infectious smile which epitomised everything the Games were about; unity, equality and world class athletes overcoming obstacles to become champions. Scotland’s record haul of 53 medals was far-in-a-way more than anyone could have hoped for and will take some matching.
And the Games have been kind to those of our own university, proving an infectious experience that will only bode well for the future. With Lynda Flaws, Angus McInroy, Camilla Hattersley and Laura Muir all reaching finals in their respective fields, the 14 athletes from the university have represented us in the most brilliant of manners.
Now Glasgow must look towards the future because after months of uncertainty and speculation, the city provided her greatest of spectacles. The athletes have all gone home, and the Games are now a distant memory.
However, we must not allow this to be the case. With massive promises being made by both the council and Scottish government to capitalise upon the success surrounding the Games, failure to do so would prove criminal. In just eleven days we proved that our great city could welcome the sporting world in style. Now we just need to transform this into a lifetime of sporting legacy.