I was delighted to be invited to a venue tour of the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village and Tollcross International Swimming Centre.
The tour took place on Friday 3rd May and with just 436 days to go now until the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, it was really exciting to see how the venue infrastructure is developing.
I was shown around the Athletes Village, which will be home to around 6, 500 athletes and team officials throughout the games. Through the development of the Athletes Village, Glasgow City Council plans to bring further social and economic value and regeneration to the area by creating opportunities for employment and training, local business and social enterprise.
I also visited the recently refurbished and extended Tollcross International Swimming Centre. The existing 50 metre, 10 lane pool has been joined by a new 50m, six lane warm-up and training pool, ensuring world class facilities for the games. The developments at the centre will provide a permanent training and recreational facility for both the local community and elite athletes, as well as a venue for major international swimming competitions.
The games in 2014 will be an opportunity for organisations, businesses, and communities across Scotland, including in Central Scotland given its relative proximity to the location of the Games, to prosper. I really enjoyed my trip and would like to thank the Organising Committee for their kind invitation and wish them all the best in the run up to the games.
I was an enthusiastic participant in the recent “Workout at Work” at the Scottish Parliament.
The event, organised by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, gave MSPs and staff the opportunity to learn how to remain fit and flexible during the working day.
Like most people in the modern working world, I spend most of my time behind a desk. Gone are the days of heavy industry, shipbuilding and mass agriculture, when many people worked in tough environments – frequently outdoors - in occupations that were physically demanding.
Whilst this is in some ways a good thing, we have, as a nation, failed to adapt to this new way of working. We still eat food that is high in calories, but, unlike previous generations, we no longer burn it off. Allied to a general lack of exercise in our leisure time, this lifestyle is not conducive to high levels of health and fitness, and these are trends that permeate all levels of society.
The Workout at Work day helped us to see how we can all do more exercise without disrupting our working days. I learned a range of simple exercises and stretches that will enable me to avoid injuries, improve my posture, and improve my fitness, without stepping foot outside the office.
Now I just have to remember to do them!
The International Children’s Games has drawn to a close, and been hailed a great success by all involved.
ICG President Torsten Rasch was fulsome in his praise, stating that Lanarkshire ”deserves a gold medal for presenting an oustanding childrens’ games.”
For three days children from across the globe competed in a variety of different sporting events, exhibiting skill, desire, enthusiasm and passion. Not even the wet weather could dampen the competitive spirit! The standard throughout was extremely high, and I am glad to report that Lanarkshire experienced considerable success.
In athletics Lanarkshire Boys’ 4x100m relay team won gold whilst Alec Thomas won silver in the boys’ 100m. Mhairi Hendry won silver in the girls’ 8oom with Emma Frame taking bronze in the girls’ long jump.
Meanwhile, Lanarkshire’s boys football teams carried all before them, racking-up a series of double digit victories before beating Sparta of Greece 4-1 to claim gold in the final, whilst Lanarkshire’s girls lost 2-0 to Seoul of South Korea in a close fought final to take silver.
In the golf, Innes Ferguson took gold and Fraser Innes took bronze, and Sebastien Potter, Ryan Ferrey, Neil MacDonald, and Gavin Logie all won bronze medals in the boys’ judo, with Amy Dougan and Michelle Boyle claiming gold in the girls’ event.
Last (but not least!) Emma Christie took bronze in the girls’ 200m backstroke. Full results can be found on the official ICG website.
However, despite the high standard throughout, it was the spirit of warmth and togertherness surrounding the games which made a lasting impression. All the performers acquited themselves well on that score, as did the local populace, who went out of their way to welcome competitors, coaches, and spectators alike.
I have always believed in the power of sport to inspire and unite, and the success of these games has only strengthened that belief. All the children involved excelled themselves, and I have no doubt that the courage and commitment they have shown will serve them well in the years to come. Now we must work to create an enduring legacy around these games, and ensure that children across Scotland have equal access to the coaching and facilities that will give them a chance to compete in years to come.
Last night I was delighted to be one of the 7000 people to attend the opening ceremony of the International Children’s Games at Fir Park in Airdrie.
The atmosphere was fantastic, with the competitors introduced by a fanfare from the North Lanarkshire Pipe Band before taking part in in the opening procession.
The 45th International Children’s Games is a cosmopolitan event, with over 1,300 competitors and coaches, representing 33 cities from 77 countries, descending on North and South Lanarkshire for the duration of the 3 day tournament.
Events beginning today include tennis, football, judo, golf, sailing and volleyball. Further details can be found on the official International Children’s Games website.
I recently made my Maiden Speech in the Scottish Parliament, focusing on equal access to sport for all.
Sport is something that brings people together, no matter their background, because everyone has the same goal and vision: to succeed and be the best they can.
That is why it is essential that the Government meets its target of two hours a week of PE in our schools as soon as possible. It is not acceptable that that commitment has been put back until 2014. That pledge should be a priority for the Government if it is serious about sport and fitness.
The Government should also consider the introduction of free swimming lessons, especially to primary school pupils, and explore ways of making sport more affordable. It should also broaden access to employment and training programmes such as the one provided by Sportworx in South Lanarkshire.
If we do not open up access to sport in this country, many young people will be deprived of the enjoyment, health and social benefits it offers. We have to motivate parents and teachers to become more involved, and we have to provide the right support and training whenever and wherever possible.