Scotland’s past sporting heroes have united to get behind Team Scotland and share their hopes for how the 2014 Commonwealth Games can inspire future athletes and the nation as a whole as they look ahead to next summer’s event.
The 21 stars, including gold medallists Allan Wells, Gregor Tait, Steve Frew and Shirley McIntosh, have spoken about their personal Games journey, the support they had from their communities, and the impact representing Scotland has had on their lives.
With the Games on the horizon, the sportsmen and women highlighted how previous Commonwealth Games stars inspired them to succeed, with many going on to create their own legacy by coaching and mentoring Scotland’s next generation of athletes.
Their stories are featured on the Legacy 2014 website – www.legacy2014.co.uk - which details the national legacy programmes underway to ensure positive and lasting benefits are created from the XX Commonwealth Games in communities across Scotland.
Allan Wells, a name synonymous with Commonwealth Games success with six medal wins from two consecutive Games, spoke about how the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh had a huge role in his sporting success.
Allan said: “A small part of the legacy from the Commonwealth Games coming to Edinburgh in 1970 was the new track built at Meadowbank Stadium. For me, it is a small legacy, which has had an immense impact on my life.
“And whilst the Games as an event is for the athletes, the legacy is for the people of Glasgow and Scotland. I hope seeing new world-class facilities being built on their doorsteps will inspire more young people to get active and for those already involved in sport, to get to the next level. Having the Commonwealth Games come to Edinburgh all those years ago certainly did this for me and I look forward to what the Games will mean for future generations to come.”
With Team Scotland in training for what will be the biggest event of their sporting career, boxing Commonwealth gold medallist Dick McTaggart from Dundee, added how important it is for the whole nation to get behind the team in the lead up to 2014.
The boxing legend who was crowned Commonwealth champion at the 1958 Games in Cardiff and remembers the effect the cheering crowd had on him as he boxed his way to gold.
He said: “The support at home is a huge factor for a fighter and when I competed in Cardiff it was a home crowd for me. To this day I still remember walking into the arena with everyone cheering my name and our young fighters will have that experience in Glasgow next year. Nothing can match it and it does give you that edge.”
Dick believes the Games offers a big potential for the country: “Hosting an event such as the Commonwealth Games is a huge honour; I want it to inspire more people to get involved in sport, even just for fun. It’s given me some amazing memories and I hope the Games will inspire many more people to get involved.”
For badminton star Susan Egelstaff, who represented Scotland in three Commonwealth Games, winning team bronze at Manchester 2002 and individual bronze at Melbourne 2006, the legacy of the Games in 2014 is just as important as the sporting prowess the world will witness over the 11-day competition.
She says: “It’s so exciting to be part of the Commonwealth Games and I hope more young Scots see just how much it has impacted lives like mine and feel inspired to reach for their own goals. If I manage to encourage even just one person to pick up a badminton racquet and give it a go then I’ve done something right!”
As Scotland’s most successful ever athlete in a single Commonwealth Games, Gregor Tait who originally hails from Glasgow expressed how a Games on Scottish soil is something we can all benefit from, for generations to come.
He said: “I know Scotland can put on the greatest show of all time and put our compact country on the map – after all, people only need to see how amazing a place it is to fall in love with it.
“But it’s important that the Games also do more than just create an incredible atmosphere. I certainly think the Games will help inspire a generation to try out new activities and ultimately catapult Scotland to being a powerhouse in world sport. It’s a legacy which is already being built with new infrastructure and facilities and I’m sure the buzz will encourage Scots to get involved.”
As a 15-times medallist in the Paralympic Games and proud competitor for Team Scotland at Manchester 2002, para-swimmer Paul Noble knows all about the buzz and excitement that accompanies a big multi-sport event and for him the Games offers real opportunities for the sporting heroes of the future.
He said: “It’s especially great for young people with disabilities to see para-athletes not just competing on the world stage but right on their doorsteps too. It shows just what can be achieved if you work hard for it and hopefully might inspire a new generation of young para-athletes in Scotland to take up sport.”
The stories and thoughts of all 21 sporting heroes can be read at: www.legacy2014.co.uk