Steve Frew from Falkirk won Scotland's first ever gold medal in gymnastics at the Manchester Commonwealth Games back in 2002 at the age of 28. As part of the original bid team for the 2014 games he travelled to numerous countries in an effort to help secure the games in his now home city of Glasgow and continues to be involved with the promotion and preparation of the games.
Although he hasn't won any medals for golf (yet) he enjoys the game citing the picturesque courses on Scotland's islands as some of his favourite and hopes visitors attending the games this year take the opportunity to experience some island life even if they don't play golf.
The Commonwealth Games return to Scotland for the third time this year. Glasgow’s rival, Edinburgh, held the games in 1970 and ’86 but the impact from these Games is expected to be far greater. One million tickets for 250 medal events will be sold and a TV audience of 1.5 billion is expected. And Commonwealth-related investment has secured £109m worth of events and conferences. But these figures alone don’t sum up what the Games will mean to the host city.
The arrival of the Games can be seen as a culmination of Glasgow’s 40-year recovery from the hangover of its industrial past. That time has seen the city attempt a total re-brand, packaging itself as a tourist destination and a champion of the arts and culture. The aim has been to enhance the lives of Glasgow’s population as well as offering visitors a vibrant and welcoming destination. For that goal to be achieved the process must continue and the Games can then be regarded as a stepping stone to future prosperity and quality of life for Glaswegians.
Legacy, whether sporting, economic or social has to be sustainable and eventually self-generating. This means local businesses, in, for example, retail and hospitality reaping the rewards of the extra visitors and Scottish companies winning Games’ contracts. This has been at least partially fulfilled by £184m of such being awarded to Glasgow firms.
Added to these economic gains the enhanced facilities now possessed by the city will encourage greater sporting participation and prove an inspiration to future generations. The mix of venues was designed at a 70/30 ratio of existing to new build. The established include iconic football stadiums such as Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic Park. These are complemented by state-of-the-art developments such as the Emirates Arena including the Chris Hoy Velodrome.
Infrastructure investment hasn’t been limited to sport. Ambitious housing regeneration is underway in the East End and pavement/road surfaces improvements worth £3m are being implemented all across the city. Not to mention the extension of the M74, the catalyst for which was the Games and the £9m upgrade of Dalmarnock Railway Station.
Investment in people is demonstrated in various training and educational programmes, the flagship of which is the 3,000 apprenticeships already created.
From the 23rd of July to the 3rd of August thousands of athletes will compete in Glasgow. Organisers hope that elite performers such as Mo Farah and Usain Bolt are among them. And to help ensure the presence of the optimum amount of overseas sportspeople, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced various tax incentives covering this summer.
But, as Lord Coe said on Radio Five only this week, the big story in Glasgow will be the Commonwealth Games themselves not the individuals who may or may not attend. And that story will remain long in Glaswegians’ memories. It is to be hoped the legacy of the Games will match that longevity.