13 Nov

Still Game?

Artists rendering of Hampden Stadium during the Games

It's eight months until Scotland welcomes the rest of the Commonwealth to Glasgow for the 2014 Games. Following the excitement generated by last year's London Olympics, a huge sense of anticipation is building in the city and indeed throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Commonwealth Games will be different from the Olympics. A reputation as the 'friendly' games; a quirky cross-section of countries from mighty India to tiny St Helena; plus a more human scale mean that the Commonwealth competition has a unique quality. One that has resulted in truly memorable British sporting occasions like Manchester (2002) and Edinburgh (1970/1986). Some vets might remember Cardiff (1958) but we suspect just a very few will have recollections of London (1934)!

Now it's Glasgow's chance to move into the spotlight, and Scotland's biggest city has the potential to stage an event that will be remembered well into the future. Already organisers are playing to Glasgow's strengths. Games mascot Clyde, created by a local 12 year old, has been described as 'curious, confident and cheeky' and he reflects much of the Glaswegian persona. Glaswegians are warm and irreverent, gritty and engaging; there is little pretence about them.

The city's special character is certain to complement what organisers are working so hard to achieve - inclusion, involvement, a real chance to be part of something special. Getting in on the fun can take a number of forms and now is the time to think about 'your' Commonwealth Games.

Spectators will have the chance to see Scotland and 70 other nations and territories compete for team glory and national pride in 17 sports at new world-class venues like the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, and iconic locations including Hampden Stadium and Kelvingrove Park.

Clyde, Glasgow 2014's Mascot

Hampden Park will host the 5,000 and 10,000 metres events, something regular runners will particularly enjoy. The stadium, one of the most famous football grounds in the world, will be transformed into the athletics venue for the Games. In what is a ground-breaking approach - one being watched with interest around the globe - a new running track will be installed and will sit almost 2m above ground level at Hampden, before being removed by the end of 2014. The Glasgow team hopes this innovation could change the way stadia are altered for athletics and remove the need for purpose-built stadia at future events worldwide.

The other event which will attract huge spectator interest is the marathon. The start and finish will be at Glasgow Green with a predominantly southside route that will showcase major civic landmarks plus the river and the parks. The marathon is sure to provide one of the best spectating opportunities of the Games and a brilliant canvas for Glaswegian enthusiasm and humour.

Jessica Ennis-Hill's Coach Toni Minichiello has said that heptathlon star will be in Glasgow next year to complete the set of major championship titles she has won. 2014 may also be one of the last chances to see the incomparable Mo Farah in track action; the double gold Olympian has yet to confirm whether he'll be competing but the Commonwealth 5,000 and 10,000m races would be ideal training ahead of his proposed marathon future.

Most media coverage, however, could be around one Usain Bolt, who has signalled his intent to bring his inimitable brand of sporting excitement to town. Like Ennis-Hill, Bolt hasn't won a Commonwealth medal, and has said 'I want to be a part of it'. If his coach agrees to it, the record-breaking sprinter will most likely compete in the 200m.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games won't just be about big stars like Bolt and Ennis-Hill, it's going to be about the little guys - like me and you! Already organisers are well advanced in selecting and training 15,000 of the friendliest, most obliging people from all over Scotland (and beyond!) to make sure that competitors, overseas visitors and spectators have a fantastic time.