THE Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games can build upon a golden era of sporting and cultural triumphs not witnessed in Britain since the postwar years, organisers said yesterday.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, chairman of Glasgow 2014, told The Scotsman that the age was comparable to the period in the early 1950s which heralded the Queen’s Coronation, saw a British team successfully climb Mount Everest, and coincided with Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile barrier.
His comments came as Sir Chris Hoy expressed excitement about witnessing a new generation of athletes follow the trail he blazed, hailing the Games as the “next stepping stone” to continued sporting success.
The cycling legend joined Team Scotland athletes and senior Games officials in Glasgow city centre yesterday to kickstart the one-year countdown to the largest multi-sport event ever hosted in Scotland.
With 12 months to go before tens of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators descend on the city, as 71 nations compete in 17 sports, those behind the Games said that plans were well advanced, with all the permanent venues up and running, and the Athletes’ Village about 85 per cent complete.
Asked if the recent success enjoyed by Scottish and British individuals and teams was building momentum for the Games, Lord Smith said: “When I was a youngster in the early 1950s, when we climbed Everest, there was a Coronation, and Roger Bannister broke the four-minute barrier. Somehow, we were winning everything, and there’s a feeling like that around now.”
The crossbench peer, one of Scotland’s leading business figures, said he believed the event could usher in a lasting “culture change” in terms of sporting prowess and participation.
“[Kids] can use these stadia, and then their heroes are going to come here in a year’s time, and they can say, ‘I’ve run around the track, swum there’. I think we will see a change.”
At a series of events in Glasgow’s main Buchanan Street, the official ticketing guide to the Games was also unveiled, which details the times and venues of next summer’s events.
The first gold medal of the Games will be won in the women’s triathlon on the opening day of competition, 24 July 2014.
A four-week application process for tickets opens on 19 August. A computerised ballot will be used to allocate tickets for over-subscribed events.
One of the major challenges facing organisers is ensuring the world’s elite competitors descend on Glasgow next year – not least sprint sensation Usain Bolt, who is yet to win a Commonwealth title.
Lord Smith said: “We don’t pay appearance money or anything, but we do have federations, like the Jamaican federation in the case of Bolt, and they will speak to their athletes in the hope of attracting all of them.
“I am pretty hopeful that we’ll get a lot of big names.”
Sir Chris said that while he wished he could have participated next year, he was looking forward to cheering Scotland on.
Scotland’s greatest ever Olympian said: “To have a home crowd is a unique experience. It’s the perfect opportunity for Scottish athletes.
“Sadly, this was one Games too many for me, but I’ll be here to enjoy the atmosphere as a fan.”
Asked what advice he would give to prospective stars of Team Scotland looking to emulate his success, he said: “The biggest thing the athletes can do is enjoy it … you have to enjoy the moment – don’t see it as a burden or expectation to perform.
“The crowd want you to win, but they won’t be disappointed if you don’t. They just want you in a Scottish jersey doing the best you possibly can.”
Broadcast deals mean 1.5 billion people set to tune in
ORGANISERS of Glasgow 2014 revealed yesterday that more sports fans across the globe will be able to watch the Commonwealth Games with the appointment of a broadcaster bringing the event to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
In the latest broadcast deal struck for the event, Sky Network Television Ltd has been given the broadcasting rights to provide extensive coverage of next July’s Games.
It is anticipated that 1.5 billion people worldwide will tune in to Glasgow 2014 through international television and radio channels.
The sale of broadcast rights packages aims to raise around £100 million through licensing, merchandise and ticketing.
Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg said the latest deal “provides further proof of the strong appeal of Glasgow 2014 across the world”.
In the UK, all the action from the Games will be broadcast exclusively on BBC television. The agreement between the organisers and the corporation ensures the continuation of a long broadcasting association dating back to 1954.
Other international broadcasters who have struck deals with Glasgow 2014 to relay the action to audiences across the world include Network Ten for Australia, Dubai-based TAJ TV for the Indian sub-continent, and SuperSport for Africa.
Sky Network Television Ltd chief executive John Fellet said: “We’re delighted to have the privilege of bringing this incredible event in high definition across multiple channels to Kiwis next year.
“We have a really talented team who I’m sure will do a superb job of producing this event.”