Scotland’s Commonwealth Games

commonwealth gamesThis year Scotland is preparing to host the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – the first time since 1986 that the Games have come to Scotland! As the opening ceremony draws closer, read on to find out more about this fantastic four-yearly sporting event between the prime athletes from all over the Commonwealth of Nations!

The Commonwealth Games as we know them today however, have only existed since 1978 – though they have existed in various forms since 1930 when a Canadian man, Melville Marks Robinson, organised the first British Empire Games to take place in Ontario. Back then the Games were much smaller than today, with participants from only 11 of the Commonwealth Nations – and ladies were only allowed to take part in the swimming events!

Following WWII, the British Empire began to break up and the Commonwealth of Nations was established with the understanding that all the member nations would now be recognised as free to govern themselves and treat one another as equals. This focus on equality has led to the Commonwealth of Nations (which still counts almost one third of the world’s population as members) working together to tackle issues such as poverty, racism, democracy, peace, health and human rights. The Games has acted as a way to bring all of these sometimes disparate nations together every few years and provide a source of fun and pride in our common bond!

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Nowadays of course, the event has grown and grown, and the XX Commonwealth Glasgow 2014 LogoGames are the biggest yet; in fact this year’s Games will be the largest multi-sport event ever held in Scotland! Teams from 71 nations will take part in 261 events in 17 sports to make up a truly inspiring and exciting week of athletic and sporting displays. For a small nation with (ahem) not exactly a sterling reputation in the world of sport, Scotland has always performed strongly – helped of course by our status as one of only six nations which have been part of the Games since its inception. With over 350 medals won in total, almost 100 of which were gold, Scotland is ranked as the seventh most successful country in the Games, in fact we’ve won medals at every single Games ever held! And of course we have some of the most dedicated and brilliant sportsmen to have made this happen! One Scottish competitor, Willie Wood, was the first participant ever to compete in seven Commonwealth Games, though the most successful sportsman was shooter Alister Allan, with a magnificent total of 3 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze medals won. Others such as Chris Hoy, Susan Jackson and Steve Frew have also brought glory to their home nation and are now part of Team Scotland, acting as ambassadors and enthusiastic supporters of the new generation of hopeful athletes.

One of the most charming traditions of the Commonwealth Games is the Queen’s Baton Relay. This has taken place in the lead up to every game since 1958, and involves the Head of the Commonwealth (currently Queen Elizabeth II) writing a message to the people of the Commonwealth and sealing it inside a baton, which she then entrusts to the first of many runners. Each runner will hand off to the next as the baton travels from England to the host nation, where it finally arrives during the opening ceremony. The final runner then hands the baton back to Queen Elizabeth (or her representative should she not be in attendance), who retrieves and reads out her message to officially open the Games. Since 2006, the baton has travelled through every single participating nation before reaching its destination (before this only England and the host nation were included), and a new baton is designed for every Games. This year’s design is inspired by Scotland’s natural resources and industry and scientific prowess, featuring elm wood and traditional boat building techniques of construction alongside a cutting edge titanium lattice. Uniquely, the Queen’s hand written message is visible through the lattice, but unreadable due to being surrounded by LED lights, and the baton is locked using a two-part puzzle mechanism; solving the first puzzle ensures each nation is gifted with a granite gemstone souvenir, but the secret to the second part which allows access to the message will not be unveiled until the opening ceremony.

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Tartan Bow TieThe final runner of the Queen’s Baton Relay will of course be dressed in the official Team Scotland sportswear which centred on the colours blue, navy and white to echo the Scottish flag, with Saltire and lion rampant motifs throughout. In addition to these, the Team have parade uniforms which of course incorporate our beloved tartan fabric in a very unique and eye-catching modern design. Although this particular tartan is exclusive to Team Scotland members, the medal bearers and other non-sportsperson officials will wear The Official Glasgow 2014 tartan. This special and beautiful design was created by a 15 year old Scottish school pupil, Aamir Mehmood, to represent the national colours of Scotland and the multicultural nature of Scotland and the Commonwealth of Nations. Luckily for all of us, this tartan is available to the public via House of Edgar, one of Scotland’s oldest and most prestigious woollen mills, and can be made into a wide range of beautiful garments and accessories such as shawls, hats and – of course – Highland kilts!

So as Scotland gears up to cheer on our great athletes in these special Games, how will you show your support for your favourite team? We look forward to hearing comments from our friends and allies across the Commonwealth and in the spirit of the Games themselves wish all the teams the best of luck!

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