Michael Cavanagh: Olympics is hint of gold for Glasgow 2014
LONDON’S Games have inspired our athletes and the public – our Commonwealth Games in two years will do the same
I was elected as chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) in November 2007, just 20 days after the 2014 Commonwealth Games had been awarded to Glasgow. It is now less than two years till the opening ceremony on 23 July 2014 at Celtic Park.
Planning is well advanced with Glasgow 2014 Ltd now employing more than 200 people, which will rise to more than 1,000 in the final year. Recruiting the 15,000 volunteers, crucial to the success of every Games, is underway and the next few months, post-London 2012, will also see a number of key announcements about the Games in Glasgow in areas such as ticketing, the Queen’s Baton Relay – and the Games mascot.
It has been amazing to see how much the London 2012 Games have captured the imagination of the country and, I believe, created the perfect platform for a great Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. From the moment that Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony got London 2012 off to the best possible start, the momentum has been maintained and the support for Team GB has been incredible and, as has been seen during many athlete interviews, at times very emotional.
The Team GB ethos has been crucial to creating a feeling, across the 26 Olympic sports, within the team that they are part of something special, outwith their normal sport-specific championships. It also has assisted in engagement with the British public, who have something to feel proud of and get behind. CGS has developed its own Team Scotland branding for the last four Commonwealth Games, with a strapline of “17 Sports, one Team”.
Team GB has grasped the opportunity of home advantage with both hands and our intention is to do the same with Team Scotland in 2014. Team GB, as a name for the British Olympic team, has been used since the Sydney 2000 Games but it’s only in the last few weeks that the whole country has become aware of it to the extent that every second person on the streets in London seems to be wearing Team GB kit and the venues are resounding to chants of “GB” whenever any British athletes are performing.
Scotland is passionate about sport, with Glasgow among the top ten cities in the world for hosting sports events. I have every confidence that Team Scotland will generate fantastic support and interest in Scotland during the Glasgow 2014 Games, which will contribute to a recognition that there’s a lot more to sport in Scotland than football. The exposure that all 17 sports will receive creates a once in a lifetime opportunity and our sports need to be ready to capitalise on it.
That brings us to the debate on the legacy from Glasgow 2014. From the moment in 2003 when CGS decided to lead the bid for the 2014 Games, we were clear that, although the 11 days of sporting competition are the most crucial element of the Games for us and our member sports bodies, the commitment and investment required to host a Commonwealth Games is only justifiable if it creates a legacy.
The Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have each detailed legacy plans, committed to deriving lasting benefits to the country and the city from hosting the 2014 Games. Perhaps the most obvious at present is the physical legacy in Glasgow. The new Commonwealth Arena & Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is due to open in October 2012, right next to the Commonwealth Games village, which will become a new community in the east end of Glasgow after the Games. This investment in housing and sports facilities, along with new transport infrastructure, has transformed that area of the city.
The tougher legacy to deliver is to inspire people to spend more time on sport and physical activity. This will only happen if people understand that we all have a part to play in delivering that legacy. It’s not the job of Glasgow 2014 Ltd to deliver it, but to ensure the potential is built in to everything it does.
A lasting legacy in increased sports participation and more regular physical activity will only come from individuals and groups making it happen, rather than waiting for it to be provided. What London 2012 has shown us is that sport can inspire people to do amazing things, and I am in no doubt that Glasgow 2014 will have the same effect, particularly in Scotland.
With sport in schools no longer making the same contribution to producing Scotland’s top athletes as they used to, it is crucial that the future focus is on clubs that can provide opportunities to develop and excel for those inspired by Glasgow 2014.
CGS has been focused on investment in Team Scotland. Since 2009, Sportscotland has increased direct investment in the 17 sports in the Glasgow 2014 programme and every potential Team Scotland athlete now receives support locally from the Institute of sport network.
The key goal for CGS is to have the best medal performance ever by Team Scotland at a Commonwealth Games. The previous best was 33 medals in 1986, when the Games were last held in Scotland. I am confident that our 17 sports are on track to achieve our best ever performance, in what is now an even more competitive environment than in 1986.
My personal experience of London 2012 in the last two weeks has reinforced that confidence, as I believe our Scottish athletes will relish the atmosphere of home support in Glasgow, and deliver performances and results that will make our nation proud of them and inspire all of us.
We can’t ask for any more from them than that.
• Michael Cavanagh is chairman of Commonwealth Games Scotland
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