with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

Commonwealth Games
 a success for the
 north-east

Scotland is still on a high despite the Commonwealth Games coming to an end – and rightly so.

From the outset of Glasgow 2014, the organisers, athletes, volunteers and spectators did themselves proud. The Games were a huge credit to Glasgow and Scotland and everyone involved gave a gold medal performance.

Our fantastic athletes have pulled off a record medal haul – smashing previous totals, national records and personal bests. There is no higher honour than to represent your country on a global stage. But, we aren’t just celebrating our medal winners, every single member of Team Scotland excelled.

The atmosphere in Glasgow was electric – everyone played their part and did their bit to ensure the tens of thousands of visitors were made to feel at home.

Even the Scottish weather did its bit to help us show off our beautiful country.

Inverurie swimmer Hannah Miley made sure that the Games got off to a brilliant start with a gold medal in the 400m IM race. The performance was truly inspirational and a fantastic reward for the many hours of training that she puts in, supervised by her equally dedicated father Patrick.

The former Garioch Amateur Swimming Club member also came home with a bronze medal after competing in the 200m IM race, a great achievement.

Hannah’s success was not the only triumph for the region with adopted Scot and Oldmeldrum resident Viorel Etko gaining a bronze medal in the FS 61kg wrestling. His fantastic achievement in such a tough sport was made even more incredible by the fact that at 36-year-old Viorel came out of retirement to compete in the Glasgow Games.

Well done too to Pitmedden’s Lewis Clow for almost making the final of the T37 100m in one of the top international competitions.

I also want to pay credit to the impeccable work of our emergency services and armed forces who went beyond the call of duty to ensure a safe environment for athletes, spectators and volunteers alike. We owe them a tremendous gratitude, adding to the spirit of the Games.

Of course, this spirit was not confined to Glasgow but stretched throughout Scotland and across the world. From the moment the Queen’s Baton Relay arrived in the North-east the community have backed the competition and played their part. In Inverurie, this can be plainly seen by walking through the streets and noticing the various shop windows that have been decorated as a tribute to our local athletes.

Businesses including Interiors by Ashley, Vanity Inverurie and Dezire have all decked out their window displays to reflect the medal success.

Mitchell’s Dairy went one step further by painting Mooriel the Cow gold in honour of Hannah’s victory in the pool. This is a fantastic and light-hearted tribute but has also put Inverurie’s independent retailers in the national press as they celebrated one of the region’s most successful athletes.

These displays will hopefully not be the only visible legacy of the Games in the North-east as communities across Scotland will receive commemorative bike stands celebrating the success of Scotland’s medal winners.

Transport Scotland, working with Cycling Scotland and Sustrans, will provide £100,000 for 120 bike stands, some of which will be special commemorative stands which will be painted gold, silver or bronze to recognise medal winners from across the country.

Preparation for the Commonwealth Games did not happen overnight – it’s the culmination of years of hard work that started in Sri Lanka seven years ago and we have put in an enormous amount of work into making sure we were ready.

We were more than ready – and within budget - an almost unprecedented position for a major event of this type and is testament to the planning, knowledge, expertise and sheer determination that everyone involved in the Games has shown.

It shows that we can rise to any challenge when we are given such a great responsibility.

Sportscotland has implemented a world-class sporting system in Scotland and, working with our athletes, governing bodies of sport, Commonwealth Games Scotland, and coaches, have delivered outstanding success when the eyes of the world were watching.

We must now look ahead at how the Games can inspire the next generation to strive for success in whatever they do, be it sport, education or enterprise – that will be the true Games legacy for Scotland.