13 Jul 2014

Games Fever - Let Glasgow Flourish

My heart belongs to Glasgow. It has done for years but lately in the run up to the Games the love is mixed with a real sense of pride. The city is dolled up to the nines and she’s looking gorgeous, all shiny and new. There’s something in the air and as the stories of sporting heroes unfold across the media it’s suddenly cool to be strutting your stuff in a tracksuit. The sun has been shining but forget the usual ‘Taps Aff’ at the park, it’s time for athletic, finely honed bodies, which function like powerful machines, to represent Glasgow on the world stage. 

Last week I found myself at a school event with 1,000 primary kids as part of the baton relay. Clyde was there whipping the kids into a frenzy and then a local boxer, in his early 20’s, ran in carrying the baton. The noise was deafening as they cheered and chanted his name. You could tell from his body language that he couldn't quite believe this was all happening. My chest puffed up and the tears filled my eyes even though I didn't know him. The kids hung on his every word as he spoke about how sport had changed his life and told the youngsters, if they worked hard, they too could achieve great things. This young guy from a deprived area taking every opportunity life gives him and grabbing it with both hands. There’s a message worth sharing. 

My personal experience in sport was limited until 2011. In years gone by I was the Primary Seven 400 metre champion but like a lot of teenage girls I lost interest in sport during high school. In the last few years I've worked on many sport related projects, from club level to national agencies and I am thankful for all it has taught me. People who are sporty, or who work in sport tend to have a ‘can do’ attitude to life. They meet up and work together to find solutions, instead of wasting hours talking about whose fault the problem was. They openly invite constructive criticism because their goal is to be the best they can. I am now used to an audience scoring my performance and I'm grateful for that chance to develop my business and for what I've learned as an individual. I place great value on that experience, it’s even motivated me to get my trainers on and get back running. I want to maintain that attitude, the motivation, the ability to get back up and keep moving forward. I want to be part of any team that has that drive, that passion.

So as the diversion signs go up, the roads close, the traffic builds and the airports are jam packed please take a deep breath and fight the urge to join the grumblers. Look at the bigger picture and the opportunity the Games offer for Glasgow, for Scotland, for all the children experiencing this sporting extravaganza on their own turf. Focus on all the blood, sweat and tears those athletes and their coaches and families have put in to get this far. They've made sacrifices for years to be at the very top of their game, to qualify and to travel across the world to this dear green place.

Some may laugh at my Games Fever but I’m caught up in the moment and I plan to enjoy every second. I've got tickets for two events and I’ll be there with a flag painted on my face, cheering like a mad woman. I will shed a few tears at National Anthems, at under dogs fighting back to win a medal, at soppy stories about athletes and coaches and families. I plan to soak up every second of it. I’m going to ditch the high heels and walk to work in trainers, looking at the faces and listening to the voices of all these international strangers, and I’m going to do my best to make them feel welcome in this wonderful city I’m proud to call home.

In the years ahead I’m going to be inspired every time I hear a youngster talk about their role model being Michael Jamieson or Eilidh Child, or any other athletes who achieve great things through hard work and commitment.

It's time to let Glasgow flourish. Hands up who’s with me?

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