With 7,500 athletes and officials from 71 Counties/Territories the Commonwealth Games Athlete Village is exactly that…an actual village! Complete with 700+ housing units, multiple dining areas, cafes, bars, gyms, recreation centres, retail shops and a medical facility this place is humming 24 hours a day.
My first morning in the village followed a long day of travel and a short night’s sleep. I was still pretty tired when I finally pulled myself out of bed and stumbled towards the dining hall to get my first cup of coffee and bite to eat. Nothing could have prepared me for what I faced as I walked into the main dining hall. Thousands of people, line ups and incredible noise! I was half in the mind of turning around and heading back to bed. I pushed on (literally) and got my coffee, oatmeal and got out of there. That was madness.
Despite the rough start, after having been in the village for over a week I have fallen into a good little routine: Eat, Run, Eat, Nap, Run, Eat, Sleep, Repeat.
Not overly exciting but don’t let anyone kid you, life as an athlete can look more glamorous than it actually is. The key to life in the athlete village is to find a good balance. Don’t do to little or too much. With still 5 days till my race I got to stay activated and avoid getting too stale. The great thing is that we are in Scotland, in a new city with an international games going on. There is plenty to see and do! I have taken a couple of trips into Glasgow to see what the largest city in Scotland has to offer. I have heard plenty about Glasgow over the years and knew that Glasgow didn’t historically have the reputation of being particularly beautiful. Glasgow has a reputation of being a pretty rough and tumble town built on the River Clyde and based almost entirely on ship building. At one point in time 1/5 of all ships in the world where built here in Glasgow. Well times have changed, the shipbuilding industry has all but died and the city that once had 1.2 million people living in it has been reduced to roughly 600,000. But the story of Glasgow is far from over and all over the city you can see signs of rebirth and resurgence. The Commonwealth Games hope to play the role of catalyst in this showing off Glasgow’s new face to the rest of the world.
“People Make Glasgow” is Glasgow’s mantra and it’s the absolute truth. I honestly can’t say that I have met a friendlier group of people. Everyone from the volunteers to the locals seem to love Canadians and it’s hard to go anywhere without them wanting photos with us and asking if we happen to know their friend’s younger son who works in the “Virgin” store in Vancouver (I don’t). The locals (AKA Glaswegians) have made all of us athletes and official feel so welcome it’s been amazing!
We didn’t get to walk in the opening ceremonies as for anyone that has participated in these types of things in the past can attest that they are long and tiresome. Lots of standing around and waiting to finally enter the stadium near the end of the show, missing most of the entertainment. Instead we got tickets to watch the opening ceremonies from inside the stadium. This was the best deal because we got to see much of the show that we would have missed had we been outside the stadium waiting to walk in. The Opening ceremonies were spectacular with Rob Stewart and Susan Boyle as the headliners and Queen Elizabeth II making an appearance. The music was fantastic in the energy in the place was electric! I left those ceremonies inspired and feeling very fortunate to be a part of these games.
The athletics portion of the Games started yesterday, taking place at Hampden Park stadium (Scotland’s National Stadium). After having competed at the World Track and Field Championships last summer in Moscow where the stadium was left mostly empty for the morning sessions I expected that for the first day, of which mostly only heats and qualifying rounds were contested, the stadium would be half full. Not a chance! The Stadium was packed to the brim and the Scots were showing how much they love to cheer! There were flags flying from all over the Commonwealth and it didn’t seem matter if you were winning the race or 2 laps behind. The fans were knowledgeable and passionate! It was something special.
With only a couple days to go I am in full taper mode. Just a couple light tune up sessions to come and plenty of rest. There are only 12 men in my final on Friday evening, 3 Kenyans (including the Olympic Champion), 3 Brits, 3 Canadians (myself included), 1 Aussie, 1 Ugandan and 1 lad from the home nation Scotland. Training has been going about as well as I could hope for. Just need to get to the line healthy and the good things will follow!