Well, Glasgow was indeed pure Gallus over the past fortnight.
Our Commonwealth Games experience began on Friday, 25th July when we arrived in a sunny, scorching hot Glasgow for the live ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ broadcast from the City Halls. We were thoroughly entertained by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, John Owen Jones and Gloria Onitiri. Boy, could that girl sing!
We were also lucky to see several British sports stars including Dame Kelly Holmes, Matt Pinsent, Rodger Black, Colin Jackson and Steve Cram. Wowsers!
We then enjoyed a Saturday night wander around the Merchant City, before heading to George Square to take some photos at the Giant G:
I even got to ‘high-5’ Clyde:
And to hug him, of course!
Saturday morning was an early start, and we caught the train back into Glasgow, and headed to the SECC for the Judo. The security was very slick and efficient. and we were inside the venue in plenty of time.
Our seats were fantastic: very close to the action, and I found the contests surprisingly easy to follow. Although we only saw preliminary rounds, through QF, SF and repêchage, there was plenty of success for the home nations teams, and we saw many well deserved wins.
When the event ended, we stopped off at the Crowne Plaza hotel for a lil’ drink. And, we were surrounded by BBC execs: Clare Balding and her team were sitting at the next table prepping their show for later in the evening 🙂
We then walked along to Glasgow Green, to experience the Commonwealth Games Festival and we had arranged to meet Simon, Pamela and Matthew, Joe, Stacey and RJ, and Angie and Ryan, and his nephew Kieran. The queues for security were quite long, but when we were inside, there were lots of activities and fun for the kids – including the big kids!
We had a few little drinks there, and when the rain made an appearance we retreated to a nearby pub.
@The WelshWookie and I had dinner reservations for Brown’s, which was wonderful. I had lobster linguine, while @TheWookie had steak. Yummy.
Sunday morning was a little damp, but we headed into the city once again to see the marathon. Not long after we arrived in George Square, the male marathoners past us. Those guys are fast! We then met up with the wonderful Allison aka The Running Princess and her husband Steve which was fab! We watched the female marathon runners pass by, and Allison gave me the MP3 player with her running tracks on it, as part of the Great Music Swap. Stay tuned for a later post on this! 😛
@TheWelshWookie and I walked back down towards Merchant City, and had a look around the Irn Bru ‘pop up’ museum, before stopping to cheer on the marathon runners as they made their second of three laps around the city. We then headed to Glasgow Green, and were lucky to find a spot around 100 metres from the finish line, where we could cheer the runners.
The atmosphere was fantastic! Yes, it was a little wet and showery, but everyone was in good spirits. And when Michael Shelley from Australia rounded the corner an realised he was at the finish line, his joy was palpable!
We then spent the rest of last week working, but glued to the Games all week.
And, on Friday at lunchtime, we headed through once again to Glasgow, for this weekend’s shenanigans!
We met up with Angie and Ryan in George Square, before catching the shuttle bus to Hampden for the athletics. And what a ball we had!
Our seats were fantastic: right behind the flag poles, at the start of the race track. It was also just where the pole vaulters were performing.
We had a wonderful evening, and the events seemed to fly by, including the men’s 10,000 metres, the ladies 800 metres, with Lynsey Sharp bagging a silver medal for Scotland! We also watched the pole vault final, triple jump, ladies high jump final, discus and javelin. And we also saw the heats for the 4×400 relays and, of course the 4×100 relays too!
We were very lucky to be seated just where the anchors would start their run, which meant we could see plenty of two of the biggest sprint stars in the world: Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce and, what’s the name of that fast guy again? The entertaining one? Ummmmm.
Oh, that’s right.
Bolt. Usain Bolt.
Despite all of the controversy during the week, he received a fntsatic reception from the crowds and he did not disappoint with his explosive running. Wowee.
You can see him in action here:
The evening ended with the women’s 100m hurdles, which was also very impressive. We then headed back to the queue for the shuttle bus before stopping off for a night cap on our way home.
Saturday morning and we found ourselves heading back into the city for two events. It was pretty wet and damp, so we had some breakfast at the station before we caught the train to the SECC and joined the queue for the para-powerlifting event.
As we queued the rain started, and the brollies went up. The tickets said gates would open at 12.30, but that came and went and we were still waiting in the pouring rain. Turns out there was apparently a misprint on the tickets, and they weren’t ready to let us in! Needless to say I was soaking wet, and not impressed.
Finally, we were allowed in, and both security and the Clydesiders did their best to get us into the dry of the Clyde Auditorium (a.k.a. the Armadillo) quickly. We found our seats easily, and settled with a beer to enjoy the event. The athletes were really impressive: how they have overcome various levels of disability to lift and achieve so much was inspiring. We also saw a new world record, when Ali Jawad from Team England broke his own world record not once but twice! I reckon that was one of my highlights of the games.
When the event finished, the rain was still pouring, and so we headed back to the Crowne Plaza again, knowing we could have something to eat and wouldn’t have to go back through security once again.
The gates for the Boxing were due to open at 6.30pm in the newly built SSE Hydro, and so as I paid the bill, I saw that we’d been given a 20% VIP discount! 😀 The staff must have thought we worked for the BBC or something, as most of those there appeared to do so.
Anyway, we left the hotel at around 6.45pm, and found that the doors had not yet been opened, and for the second time in one day we found ourselves queueing in the rain. Finally, we got in, and we were in the circle, overlooking the boxing ring.
In fact, we were sitting next to the VIP area, and throughout the evening, lots of the referees and officials were coming to stand just in front of us to have their photos taken above the ring, as it was the perfect spot for that!
We saw the finals of the women’s middleweight, and the men’s middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight and super heavyweight. The atmosphere was simply amazing! The star of the evening was Saint-Pierre, from Mauritius, who was very entertaining. But, the audience were shocked when the bout – and the gold medal – were awarded to the New Zealander he was fighting!
By the time the boxing drew to a close and the medal ceremonies were complete, the rain had cleared and we walked to the train station, stopping for a night cap before catching the train back to Dumbarton.
Our final taste of the Commonwealth Games excitement was brief, on Sunday. It wasn’t just wet, it was torrential. We had to head into the city to run an errand, and we were lucky enough to watch the men’s road race from the dry within the Apple Store on Buchanan Street.
When we got home, we settled down to enjoy the closing ceremony, and to reflect on all of our fun over the past couple of weeks.
Glasgow did itself proud: the people made the games: the friendliness, the hospitality and the support was brilliant. The Host City volunteers were a credit to Glasgow, and the Clydesider volunteers (including my sister and my mum) really made the games very special, and made everyone feel very important.
I’d like to share my wee voice of congratulations, and thanks to everyone involved in some way to making the Commonwealth Games such a wonderful success. Puredeadbrilliant!