Blog - Day 4
Yet another fantastic day in Glasgow! Today, for me, has been the best day so far of my time here; I was in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) for the second day of the Judo competition. Having access to the athletes lounge is like a dream come true for any Judo fan, so being based there for the day was really exciting.
The weather was again kind to Scotland's largest city on one of the busiest days expected during the games. Walking towards the SECC with the morning sun shining off the Clyde and highlighting the magnificent Finneston crane towering above the river, you couldn't help but be excited; a fantastic day was in store. After arriving and completing the usual security checks, I made my way to the Sport Information Desk (SID (yes, we do like our acronyms at the Games)) behind the judo hall. Having all the paperwork we needed to distribute to the teams delivered to us, our main task was to put it all in the Results Distribution Units (you guessed it, RDU's). After we had done this, we were able to relax and watch the Judo. In the athletes lounge, teams come and go, preparing for fights; it is incredibly interesting to see the differing preparation techniques from different athletes.
Another positive of being around the competition venue was getting to meet lots of lovely people. Athletes, coaches and other team staff were all more than happy to stop for a chat; these included a number of Scotland and England's day one medallists, as well as others who would go on to win medals this evening. The competition was fierce and to be able to watch it live in Glasgow was a great opportunity; it also gives a huge insight into the lives of the athletes as you see their purest emotions, elation or disappointment, as they return to the warm up area after fighting. The atmosphere within the hall was electric, with euphoric roars when Scottish athletes took to the mat, and good natured support for all other competitors.
Today, one conversation will stand out in my memory for many years to come; it was a request which came from the heart. A coach approached the SID after her athletes had all been knocked out and she had come to say goodbye and to thank us, but also to ask us for help. Judo is a relatively young sport in her country and she asked, since both myself and my colleague are coaches, if we could give her any help in increasing the ability of her athletes but also increasing the popularity of the sport. Her ambition really hit home to me how big a deal it is for these athletes, unused to the international stage, to compete in the Commonwealth Games. This gave a very true sense of the power of these Games across the globe and was a moment which, in my opinion, defines the Games' need for a legacy. I hope to continue to work with this coach in the future to assist her in her plans for her team.
Tomorrow, of course, will be another exciting day with the final day of the Judo, but again I have managed to get my hands on a ticket for the hockey. Hopefully Scotland will be able to live up to their neighbours' success and create a great atmosphere inside the stadium and out.
Blog - Day 5
The most exciting day of my time in Glasgow kicked off, once again, with an early morning bus; it was however less of a concern than usual because of the day that lay before me. After my shift in the SIC, I was going to head to the National Hockey Centre to see Wales take on world champions Australia and Scotland face India. I was then going to head to the SECC once more to catch the final evening of the Judo.
Again, the shift in the SIC was quiet and we had plenty of time to watch the Judo preliminaries, some fantastic fights took place and Scotland ended the morning with five athletes qualifying for medal fights in the evening. Having spent the morning in the Village, I headed for the train to Bridgeton, despite the queues and the somewhat more traditional Glasgow weather everyone was smiling and laughing, the atmosphere was fantastic, even in a cramped train. The hockey was another great afternoon of sport with plenty of goals, with Australia getting the better of Wales and India beating a Scotland side with plenty of home support. The crowd stayed behind the Scotland side throughout their defeat and even when it began to rain.
The real highlight of my day, and in fact my time at the Games so far, came in the evening. A packed hall in the SECC played host to one of Scotland’s most successful nights of Judo in recent years. The atmosphere was absolutely electrifying and I personally don’t remember experiencing anything like it at a sports event. Again, emotions were extreme and uncensored when away from mat; despair, delight and frustration were all present. At one point an athlete walked outside and all you could hear was his roar of disappointment. Others crumbled into tears at being defeated in the biggest fights of their lives, team staff and fellow athletes were left trying to comfort the inconsolable. From a Scottish perspective, it was a night of pure elation and joy; the roar when Euan Burton won Gold in the -100kg category is a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life; it was euphoric and there was still more to come… Chris Sherrington’s Gold to finish off the evening left Scotland with 13 medallists out of the 14 athletes we had competing.
After the competition and medal ceremonies had finished, the volunteers were allowed up on the mats to take photos of the venue. We were joined on the mats by the full Scotland squad and their coaches. After their official press photographs the team were more than happy to pose for photos with the Clydesiders. This was a brilliant show of gratitude from the players towards the volunteers and it really topped off a fantastic evening.
On my penultimate day in Glasgow I have seen great joy, pain and friendship demonstrated by a huge number of people. The atmosphere has been unrivalled and it has really shown the games to be a great success in my eyes. I am looking forward to my last shift in the Village tomorrow and saying goodbye to the many great people I have met.