Few personal memories of Glasgow will be as resilient as the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The city truly excelled in providing not only a great sporting venue for the Games, but also a venue that exposed Scotland as a country packed with culture and entertainment.
Glasgow 2014 was the 20th Commonwealth Games to be held and was Scotland’s largest ever sporting and cultural event to date. The city saw 4,500 athletes from around the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth competing across 17 sports, including Scotland’s largest ever national Commonwealth Games team. The Games sold 1.2 million tickets to spectators who had travelled from far and near to watch these athletes and participate in some of the festival events.
The Queen’s baton relay marked the festival’s commencement. The baton travelled all 72 of these nations and territories before travelling the length of Scotland in the lead up to the Games beginning on the 23rd July.
The opening ceremony on 23rd July was viewed by a television audience of over one billion people. The reviews of the opening ceremony at Parkhead were mixed to say the least. The people who saw it as a direct comparison to the London Olympics Opening Ceremony were the ones who reviewed it negatively. In fact the whole games were reviewed negatively by the spectators who tried to compare it to the Olympic Games in London in 2012. Those hoping that Glasgow would put on an event that would gain as much exposure as the London 2012 Games were always going to be disappointed. The Commonwealth Games will never match the Olympics because of its size and number of athletes competing; the two should never be compared on any grounds. A worrying matter for Glasgow was that the Commonwealth Games arrived in the city so soon after the London 2012 Olympics, so naturally there were going to be some comparisons made. Nonetheless, Glasgow did exceptionally well in showing that the UK as a whole could host two major sporting events successfully.
The Commonwealth Games is equally as great as the Olympics, but for different reasons. It exposes sports like netball, lawn bowls, squash and rugby sevens. This exposure triggers enthusiasm in children to take up these sports. Being idolised, particularly by children, is every athletes dream and this is exactly what the Commonwealth Games managed to achieve for some of the less popular athletes that attended the event.
Glasgow 2014 was a Commonwealth Games that saw over 140 records broken. For Team Scotland, the fact that they were on home ground was enough to influence their winning of a record number of medals. Dan Wallace’s swim in the men’s 400M saw him take gold for Scotland and broke the previous Commonwealth record of 4:11.04 by Chad Le Clos of South Africa. Silver in gymnastics for the Scottish men’s team made it Scotland’s most successful games for the team. Australia set a new women's 4x100m freestyle relay world record of 3min 30:98sec as they retained their Commonwealth Games title. A record breaking 171,000 attended the Rugby Sevens. There were about 3.5 million mentions of Glasgow 2014 on social media. Among these were some other record breaking statistics that show the success of the event. The event was named by the Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive as “the standout games in the history of the movement”.
England was the winning team with 123 medals in total, including an amazing 44 gold medals. Following in second and third place were Australia and Canada, consecutively. Scotland came in fourth place with 43 medals in total, including 14 gold medals.
The presence of Usain Bolt showed that the festival was high profile and that Glasgow has really achieved something special this summer. There was just something about the atmosphere in Glasgow during the eleven days of the Games, and indeed in the lead up to it, that was so exciting yet equally relaxed. You were not aware of any pressure being put on athletes and this meant that athletes and spectators could enjoy the Games.
Even the weather was an unusual experience for the Glaswegians. The city sweltered in a heatwave for the first few days of the festival. It went downhill from there after day four. We couldn’t let the spectators and athletes from around the globe leave Scotland without getting a taste of some Scottish summer!
The background of the Scottish Independence Referendum was prevalent during the Games. Many feared that political matters would be dragged in and spoil the atmosphere of the Games. However, the festival remained unaffected by the forthcoming Scottish referendum. The only aspect of it that was recognised by visitors to Glasgow was the incredible patriotism of the people of Glasgow and the other Scottish people that came to visit the festival.
Across the 11 days of the games and indeed afterwards there was such a positive effect on the people of Scotland. This was a friendly Games and Glasgow did well to achieve this status of being so pleasant and welcoming to athletes and visitors from across the world. One of the things that made the Games was the thousands of friendly and approachable volunteers that were placed throughout the city to help visitors. They were always on hand to help out, through the rain and the heat, and they never stopped smiling.
Some of the developments to the city will make the people of Glasgow proud for many years to come and will be a great incentive for people that wish to live, work and invest in Glasgow. The creation of the SECC National Arena was a major project on the River Clyde as well as the creation of the athletes’ village, a stunning neighbourhood in the East End of Glasgow where the athletes will stay during the Games and the high-quality housing neighbourhood will become home to thousands of people in the years after the Games. Many of the other developments can be found in the East End of Glasgow, where there is the new National Indoor Sports Arena (one of Europe’s biggest indoor sports facilities), the Emirates Arena, the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and the Glasgow Green Hockey Centre. Both the newly developed M74 and the East End Regeneration Route improve the transport links to the city. Many of Glasgow’s classic sports venues received extensions and developments, including Hampden Stadium, The Tolcross Swimming Centre and the Scotstoun sports centre.
The economic legacy of the Games should not be undervalued as these recent developments to the city will stimulate local business growth and employment opportunities, as well as making Glasgow even more attractive to investors. Glasgow will never forget the experience it has undergone to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.