Glasgow for a weekend visit to the host city of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
After a rather interesting opening ceremony on the Wednesday in which the hosts basically wrote down all the things that non Scottish people think of when asked about Scotland then having done that they simply took the rise out of themselves,mixed in with a Gay kiss,people dressed as Tunnock’s Tea Cakes and bizarrely a slow and depressing version of 500 Miles the Games were finally declared open after a bit of help from Sir Chris Hoy in opening the Queens Baton.
When the tickets came out I avoided the most obvious sports which would no doubt have been oversubscribed like athletics,track cycling and swimming and went for two different sports instead, this mixed in with a free event meant that I was on for a three sport extravaganza.
After a ride up on Saturday morning on a packed train (wisely I had a reserved seat) and eventually finding my hotel which thankfully was only a short walk from my first event on the Saturday evening, Lawn Bowls.
The Lawn Bowls were held at the lovely Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre.
Upon arrival I noticed that there was a total of sixteen matches all on at the same time but after some checking I watched the Women’s Singles Quarter Final between Scotland’s Caroline Brown and England’s Natalie Melmore which resulted in a 21-20 win for Natalie Melmore on her last bowl in the 28th End.
Normally Bowls is a sport that can get knocked and perceived as boring but seeing it close up you see the tactical element and how the bowl turns to get it where it’s needed, Natalie ended up getting a silver medal in the final against New Zealand’s Jo Edwards but this Devonshire bowler is a lovely athlete and a real credit to her sport,I even managed a pic with her after the match.
This was a nice way to begin the weekend,a gentle relaxing sport but competitive none the less and you can’t beat seeing England beat the Scots in their own back yard can you 😉
After a Pizza supper and a bit of R and R with some disturbed sleep due to the warm weather it was up early on the Sunday and first port of call after a near two mile walk in the rain was Glasgow Green for the Men’s and Women’s Marathon Events on a two lap Thirteen mile course through Glasgow’s streets and a couple of parks for good measure.
In the men’s event that went first at 9am everybody would no doubt have been expecting a Kenyan victory but it was not the case as Australia’s Michael Shelley took the Gold in a winning time of 2:11:15s ahead of Kenya’s Stephen Chelmany in 2:11:58.
Australia,Kenya and Uganda filled the first eight spots between them and the first European home in ninth place was Scotland’s Derek Hawkins in 2:14:15 and despite expelling some fluid on the run in right in front of the people I was with got a huge reception from the crowd as did the English runner in tenth spot Stephen Way, Of the 26 who set off 23 got round and an extra special cheer went to the last one to finish Tongia Vakaffi of Tonga who finally completed in 2:58:57.
Below,Michael Shelley Going For Gold.
In the Women’s Race which had a field of twenty in it this had a fair bit of drama in it.
The business end as probably expected was a 1-2 for Kenya and the one who for the gold medal was Flomena Cheyech Daniel in a time of 2:26:45 and her lead was twenty five second ahead of Caroline Kilel who took silver and the bronze went to Australia’s Jess Trengrove.
Susan Partridge in sixth for Scotland as expected got a huge response from the early morning risers here as did the lady behind her England’s Louise Damen.
The first bit of drama came in the early stages,according the latest times given England’s Aly Dixon was leading but passing us at the end of the first lap she looked to be struggling and didn’t look at all well so it was no surprise that she ended up not finishing the race but the other big bit of drama was when the fifth placed athlete Namibia’s Helalia Luleiko Johannes collapsed after being close to exhaustion coming down the straight, clutching her vest it was painful to watch but the fight of not wanting to give in got the better of her as she staggered over the line before getting medical attention straightaway.
Below,Getting the Gold in the Women’s Marathon.
So after the seeing the stayers in action I had a lovely stroll back through the city in company with one of the locals who I watched the race with and after saying our goodbyes i went back to my digs for a quick shower and change before jumping on the Clockwork Orange (Subway) and off to Ibrox for the finals of the Rugby Sevens.
Sevens is a tough sport but had plenty of tries in it so you don’t get matches that can end 9-6 and it purely be from penalty kicks, this sport needs a mixture of pace for the darting runs and stamina as it lasts for two days with the medal teams playing six matches.
A near full Ibrox witnessed sporting history as red hot favourites and no doubt many peoples Banker for the whole of the Games New Zealand got beat 17-12 by South Africa in a pulsating match on the hallowed turf here for the coveted Gold Medal.
This was not a shock though, in the semis South Africa looked more beefier and up for it and while New Zealand played in a way just to get the victories they made far to many basic errors with misplaced passes and knock ons that at this level you cannot afford to give away.
Australia who were beaten by New Zealand in the semis got some conciliation by beating Samoa 24-0 despite Samoa putting up a tough resistance against the Aussies.
The medallists stand for the South African National Anthem.
Ten matches in all took place that night,without doubt the two most feistiest games for the crowd involved the home nations.
In the Plate Semi Finals a plucky Kenyan side gave Wales a run for their money but the Welsh ran out 28-5 winners then the two “Auld Enemy’s” England and Scotland went to battle in what was a thrilling match, England raced into a 15-0 lead before half time but then at half time the host nation must have listened to the Braveheart speech as Scotland came out fighting and buoyed by their event came at it scoring two quick tries in succession in which one was converted to make it 15-12 but as much as Scotland battled the English said “Thou Shalt Not Pass” and just hung on for a Plate a Final against Wales who mysteriously had a few fans that sounded a bit Scottish!
The Plate Final was a real thrill which saw a comeback worthy of all comebacks wether it be football or both codes of rugby, Wales went in the 15-7 leaders at half time but a game of Sevens can change so quickly as England fought back and scored a try to make it 15-12 but England had possession has the whistle blew and retained it then a pass out to Philip Burgess was the winning one as he scored to make England the Plate winners which was for fifth place.
Below,England take the applause of the crowd.
I can honestly say this was an amazing weekend of sport in Glasgow,three totally different events but each one was simply heavenly to visit, passionate and loyal crowds showing respect to all winners and losers and applauding them for all the hard work put in on the fields of play.
Special mention must of course go to the Clydesiders who are out all day assisting the fans and helping them reach their venues and transport with minimum fuss making each person feel important.
The hospitality from Glasgow has been A1, getting to venues and people begin chatting with you and after twenty minutes it is like you have been friends for years.
Still a long way to go for Glasgow 2014, no doubt many people will compare it to London 2012 but there is no need,both events have been different and unique in their own way, Best to just enjoy and appreciate both instead of comparing and contrasting.
I know I have left Glasgow with many memories and I feel so proud to have been a small part in a major sporting event.
Thank you Glasgow for having me.