The time is almost nigh. With just a few days to go the stadiums are ready, the competitors are ready, the city of Glasgow signage is up and the action is within touching distance!
Expectations for home glory are running high with Commonwealth Games Scotland targeting a record 34 medals or more, to eclipse the tally of 33 from the 1986 Games held in Edinburgh. So while Team Scotland (meet them all here!) fine tune their preparations we offer some spectator tips to help maximise your enjoyment of what promises to be a memorable festival of sport. Ticketed events first, followed by free to watch events in triathlon, marathon and cycling.
There are still plenty of opportunities to purchase tickets across a range of sports via the Glasgow 2014 website. A check over the last 24 hours showed good availability in events such as athletics, swimming, badminton, boxing and weightlifting among others.
Some mouthwatering live sport is waiting to be enjoyed in the flesh. For example in athletics you can currently be in Hampden Park on the evening of Thursday 31st July when Eilidh Child aims not only for gold in the women’s 400m hurdles final, but also to be the first Scottish woman in two decades to win a Commonwealth title. Or there’s double Olympic (and world!) champion Mo Farah in the men’s 5k and the 10k on Sunday 27th July and Friday 1st August respectively, the latter including the women’s 800m final in which Scotland’s Lynsey Sharp and Laura Muir both have live medal prospects. Or how about the men’s 4 x 100m relay on Saturday 2nd August in which a certain Usain Bolt is expected to compete.
Boxing has excellent availability including the two finals sessions on Saturday 2nd August. What price the roof of The Hydro coming off in the afternoon session to the sound of Flower of Scotland should Prestonpans’ Josh Taylor, an Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist from Delhi, triumph on home soil in the light-welterweight final? Only to be followed by a likely appearance of Nicola Adams MBE in the women’s flyweight final, the iconic boxer who at London 2012 became the first woman to win boxing gold at the Olympics.
In badminton tickets in both the team and individual events for the qualifying and knockout stages are up for grabs. Scotland have a 10- strong squad including two former world silver medallists, Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier, who will start among the favourites for the mixed doubles titles. Kirsty Gilmour (pictured above), who will partner Bankier in the women’s doubles, has a strong chance of a medal in the women’s singles where she is the second highest world-ranked women player behind India’s world No. 11 Pusarla Sindhu. And in the men’s singles Glasgow’s Kieran Merrilees cannot be ruled out. See our feature prior to the Scottish National Championships earlier this year for more of the badminton backstory.
Weightlifting and Para-Sport Powerlifting take place in Glasgow’s famous Armadillo. Spectators can expect to be absorbed by the drama of a sport where competitors lift mind-boggling weights, but where in the battle for medals the tiniest weight difference can mean the difference between glory and finishing among the also-rans.
Scotland has a squad made up of Sophie Smyth, Georgina Black, Louise Mather and Peter Kirkbride in the weightlifting team, and Micky Yule in the powerlifting. Tickets are currently available in finals for all their events, weightlifting between 26th-29th July and the men’s powerlifting on the evening of Saturday 2nd August. The squad will all be licking their lips at the thought of lifting a national record and recreating the extraordinary atmosphere at London’s Excel in 2012 when Zoe Smith broke the GB record. A moment that you can relive right here!
The above is just a flavour of what is likely to be a fast-moving feast of spectator opportunities over the next couple of weeks. We recommend you bookmark the ticket availability page on the Glasgow 2014 website which carries regular updates on newly released tickets. And via our Twitter feed @sportonspec we’ll also highlight ticket developments as and when they happen.
FREE TO WATCH EVENTS
So much for the paid for events, there are some free events taking place on the streets of Glasgow and in Strathclyde Park offering spectator experiences that could be just as memorable as the events in the venues – not bad for gratis!
Strathclyde Park hosts the triathlon. While the transition area and finishing straight are ticketed, the park itself will be open to all and provide a great opportunity to watch, close up and personal, some of the world’s finest triathletes after the swim as they complete the 40k bike and then the 10k run to the finish line. In the men’s individual event the Brownlee Brothers, Alistair and Jonny, will be aiming to see if they improve on their amazing gold and bronze medal haul (pictured in action below) at the 2012 Olympics, while their training partner and Scotland’s very own David McNamee will be looking to get into the mix alongside University of Stirling’s Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon.
The women’s and men’s individual events take place between 11am and 6pm (female race start 11am, male race start 3.00pm) on Thursday 24th July. The action continues with the team relay on Saturday 26th July, 12.30pm – 2.30pm, with David McNamee, Grant Sheldon, Marc Austin, Natalie Milne and Seonaid Thompson in action for Team Scotland. For more build up to the triathlon events including travel information, a downloadable course map and specific information on the free-to-view areas on the course see the event guide prepared by Triathlon Scotland.
The marathon events take place on Sunday 27th July between 9am and 1pm. Scotland’s Susan Partridge, in the best shape of her life, has a real chance of making the podium in the women’s race, if not winning a gold medal, and support from a passionate local crowd is likely to play a big part. In the men’s race look out for Scotland’s Derek Hawkins and Ross Houston who will have their eyes on a top 10 finish in a world-class race likely to be dominated by the Kenyans. The marathon will start and finish in Glasgow Green and cover a route taking in some of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks as well as giving spectators a superb opportunity to watch the athletes race by within touching distance. A map of the route can be viewed here.
And so to the cycling featuring the Time Trial races on Thursday 31st July beween 10am to 4pm, and the Road Races on Sunday 3rd August 8.00am to 5.00pm.
The Tour de France’s loss this year is undoubtedly Glasgow’s gain, as having not been selected for the former Scotland’s David Millar has the latter firmly in his sights. Millar, in his final year before retirement at the end of the season, will be looking for the sweetest swansong imaginable in the city where his parents met, having vowed to defend his Commonwealth time trial title he won in Delhi, while also competing in the road race on the final day of the Games where a repeat of the bronze medal he won in Delhi, or better, will be the target. It could be emotional. Meanwhile for the women Scotland’s multi-talented Katie Archibald is a star attraction not only in the Velodrome, but also on the roads as she looks to close with Glasgow 2014 show with gold in the road race.
The Time Trial route (40km for men, 30km for women) will start and finish in Glasgow Green with a single loop course taking in the countryside of East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire as well as the city’s East End. This map of the course can be viewed on the Glasgow 2014 website. The Road Race course also starts in Glasgow Green and features a 14km circuit (12 laps in the men’s race and 7 laps in the women’s) taking riders along Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and St Vincent Street before carrying on to the west end of the city where they will pass through Kelvingrove Park and circuit the west end before heading back towards the city centre and the finish. Spectator advice on the best viewing points can be found courtesy of this piece in The Herald.
All that’s left to do now is enjoy the Games. Indulge in this once in a lifetime event any which way you can, and regret nothing, is our advice! And rest assured we’ll be here to bring you news of all the Scottish stars and medallists as they continue their sporting adventures post Glasgow 2014, not to mention ongoing events in all of the 17 sports that make up the Commonwealth Games. Simply subscribe for free to the Sport on Spec e-newsletter and you’ll be sure to receive the best possible spectator information direct to your fingertips!
Yours in Sport,
Founder – SportonSpec
*The badminton picture used in this post is by kind permission of BADMINTONscotland*