Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: The Glasgow Commonwealth Games

 

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The biggest party Glasgow has ever hosted: many hundreds of thousands of visitors will travel to Scotland’s largest city over the next fortnight. The rest of us can sporting-binge from the couch, with Gary and Clare leading the BBC coverage every day from 9am to 10.30pm – starting with Wednesday night’s opening ceremony at Celtic Park, attended by the Queen.

So far I’ve been struck by the great pride of elite athletes at competing in “the Friendly Games”. A bagpiper has greeted the 71 teams as they land. Joining Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Jamaica on the tarmac are the likes of Montserrat, tiny Kiribati and, even further away (40 hours’ travel), Norfolk Island, which is 900 miles east of Australia and has a population of 2,300.

Olympic champions like Kenya’s David Rudisha, Grenada’s Kirani James and our own Mo Farah could all have earned more money racing elsewhere, but want to compete. Other highlights include the knight on two wheels, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Laura Trott (we have an interview with her and partner Jason Kenny), Tom Daley, Louis Smith, Glasgow poster boy Michael Jamieson, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Usain Bolt and Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce running in the 4x100m... and of course the return of Bert le Clos, the impassioned father of South African swimmer Chad.

Although life expectancy in Glasgow is the lowest in the UK – just 75 per cent of boys and 85 per cent of girls born in the city are expected to reach their 65th birthday –  it has already shaken off its outdated  grim and grimy caricature. The familiar debate over whether  Glasgow’s East End will see gentrification rather than regeneration will rage after the Games, of course.

I’m looking forward to watching David Weir, now 35 and hungry for more gold. For me, one of the  highlights of that glorious 2012 summer came on the final day, joining the scrum at Buckingham Palace to see Weir power down the Mall to marathon gold. Hopefully Glasgow’s crowds will have similar memories to cherish.

i@independent.co.uk

@olyduff

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