COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2014 – THE CLYDESIDER’S
Being back in
Blandford a few days after leaving Glasgow feels rather strange. Had I
actually been at the Commonwealth Games or was it just a fantasy. I can
tell you it was real and the experience was unbelievable. I had spent 10
days working as a volunteer (suitably called Clydesiders) at the athletics
stadium, Hampden Park during the Glasgow Games.
When did it all
begin. Probably after working as a Gamesmaker in Weymouth at London
2012. I had got the bug and decided to volunteer. Therefore, in November
2012, I started the ball rolling and almost 2 years later I ended up in a
small town north of Glasgow commuting daily to Hampden Park. The
selection process for volunteering appeared to be the same as the
Olympics, right down the questions at the interview. It did mean that I
had to make 5 visits to Glasgow prior to the start of the games – for
interview, training and other bits and pieces.
What was my job. I
had been selected to work with the Timing and Scoring Team, part of
Results Technology Services. The pre-games training had been rather vague
and it wasn’t until we got to Hampden on the Friday, prior to the
athletics starting, that we were informed of our responsibilities. I
would be out on the Field of Play, scoring field events. I scored the
following: men’s shot put qualifying round; men’s decathlon javelin; and
women’s High Jump final. During my work, I sat alongside the
international official, basically operating the scoreboard on the field of
play via a laptop: confirming the competition start list and presenting it
to the scoreboard; displaying the athlete’s names prior to a throw/jump;
and, after receiving the distance/height from the field judge, putting it
on the scoreboard. At the end of competition, I confirmed the competition
results with the officials before sending them to the scoreboard.
The actual operation
was quite simple until something went wrong – and a couple of things did
go wrong. On one occasion, the field judge sent us the wrong distance in
the shot put. We put it up and the field judge hastily informed us that
we had displayed the wrong result. But, because of the security on the
laptop, we didn’t have the privileges to make any changes, so the Longines
contractor was called to reset the score. This caused a slight delay and
the chief judge got rather angry with us. I informed her that we only put
up the distance given to us by her colleague.
The start of every
event was timed down to the last minute. For example: officials enter
field of play at 19:11; athletes parade onto field of play at 19:12;
athletes get presented to spectators at 19:15; etc, etc. This was because
the broadcasters had a very tight schedule to maintain.
As you can see from
the above I only officiated at 3 events, plus a broadcast rehearsal on the
Friday prior to the start of the athletics. We were over manned, out team
was too large so there wasn’t enough work to go round. Subsequently, for
some of our ‘spare’ time we were given the opportunity to work with the
media team or find a seat in the stands and watch the athletics. I took
advantage of both offers.
What were my
highlights. It all began with the opening ceremony at Celtic Park. I was
there as a paying spectator and had a good seat just above the royal box.
Quite an emotional night especially with the Red Arrows flypast and the
arrival of the Queen. Great entertainment with Rod Stewart, Amy MacDonald
and Susan Boyle. The athletes’ parade was a little long winded – with 71
countries/territories represented. Could have done with a fast forward
On the day before the
athletics started, we were given some last minute training followed by a
broadcast rehearsal. As the training finished early, three of us decided
to do a lap of the track at Hampden, fully expecting to be thrown off
because athletes were warming up for the rehearsal. However, we got round
without incident, so we went one step further and got photos with the lap
bell. Nobody seemed to bother us. That was the feeling throughout the
games, but it was probably down to our accreditation passes – access all
Me and the Bell
When working with the
media team, I had to ensure that accredited journalists got the results,
start lists and any other relevant information they required as soon as
possible. A very busy job but rewarding, as I got to be in the presence
of most of the BBC team working at Hampden. One downside was, we were not
allowed to approach them for photos etc.
I also got to work in
the media mix zone. Every athlete had to come through this area as they
left the field of play. My task was to record the athletes as they left.
I was amazed at the number of track athletes who were physically sick as
they went through. Highlight for me that evening, besides being face to
face with 136 international athletes, was getting my photo taken with Greg
Rutherford just after he received his Gold Medal.
Greg Rutherford and me
On the last day of
athletics I was given the day off, but I decided I was going to blag my
way into the stadium to watch some athletics. No problem, waltzed in
wearing my uniform and accreditation pass. Then I had to find an empty
seat. That was going to be quite hard, but I had befriended a couple of
stewards earlier in the week and my northern charm seemed to work. I got
a really good seat just after the finish line, below the BBC TV studio.
It was a great privilege to see Jo Pavey get a medal in the 5,000 metres
and the England team get silver behind the Jamaicans in the sprint relay.
After the 4x100m final, the athletes started their lap of honour but they
never got round to us as they were rushed inside to prepare for the medal
ceremony. Therefore, me and another volunteer decided to test our
accreditation passes to the full. Could we get down to the area where the
athletes were waiting to be called forward. Yes we could – not a problem –
straight in. There we found the sprint relay teams waiting to go out to
receive their medals. I had a BOLT overload that night.
Jamaican sprint relay team with England’s
team in the background
Saturday morning (2nd
Aug), with time to spare before I went to Hampden, I searched out a park
run and ended up at Pollok Park in Glasgow. To my amazement, 3 of those
assembled at the start were members of the Australian Marathon Team (Jess
Trengove, Martin Dent & Sarah Klein). I asked if they were going to break
the course record but replied that they would just be ‘cruising’ round.
They set off at the rear of the field. It was a 2 lap course and towards
the end of the second lap, a marshal urged me to speed up as the Aussies
were coming. I was flat out, heart rate over 180, lungs busting, fighting
for breath, going as fast as I could. Then this wave of yellow and green
shirts passed me effortlessly, chatting away. Stroll in the park for
them, but not for me.
Australian Marathon team and me
There is a legend
about the spectator noise at Hampden. It’s called the Hampden Roar. Well
I am pleased to tell you it is no myth. I experienced it on a few
occasions. The first time was in the tunnel waiting to go onto the field
of play. There was a track event taking place and the noise from the
crowd was overwhelming. It just increased in volume as it funnelled down
the tunnel. Louder than a thunder storm. The second time, I was on the
field of play scoring the shot put. The women’s 10,000m final was also
underway and, in its last few laps, as the leading pack raced around the
track, there was a wave of applause and cheering following them around.
It was awesome, sat in the middle of it experiencing the roar as it
circled you. When Laura Weightman got silver in the 1,500m and Jo Pavey
took bronze in the 5,000m there was so much noise, it was deafening.
The Glasgow Games was
a brilliant experience for me – much better than the Olympics. I worked
with some great volunteers, most of them fine club athletes; I shared
space with quite a few of the BBC commentary team (mainly ex-athletes); I
was face to face with hundreds of international athletes (not all medal
winners); I loved the atmosphere in Glasgow – the place was buzzing – It’s
a beautiful city and so are the Weegies – so warm and helpful. Roll on