Double World Champion Keri-anne Payne shares the athlete journey at Glasgow 2014
The Commonwealth games is dubbed the Friendly games. In reality athletes have fought, trained and worked hard for years to qualify for their country and to earn their team track suits. Competing in Glasgow athletes are not just competing as individuals but for their teams and their countries. The Commonwealth Games are a great opportunity to meet new people and to size up all your competitors walking around the same village. I’m not competing this year, my focus is on the Olympic Games in Rio in two years time but I couldn’t help going into the village to see what the athletes will be doing and give you an insight into how life will run in The Athletes Village.
Stepping into the village for the first time as an athlete is a mix of emotions. Excitement because everything is new and different and nervousness because the competition is almost here! Athletes are welcomed into the village by the Village Chieftain and the National Youth Theatre who put on a brilliant show to mark the journey of the Commonwealth spirit. I got the chance to see a few of these ceremonies while my husband, David Carry was Village Chieftain. At this point every athlete is filled with confidence and anticipation for the next two weeks.
As the athletes arrive into the village they are greeted by the Glasgow green. A big green space that is the centre of the village. Around the green is the dining hall, transport centre, gym and the polyclinic. Having facilities like this ensure that every athlete is well looked after so they can perform at their best during the Games. Volunteers, workforce and athletes all enjoy the green space with benches, mats and sun loungers. At the heart of the green is a fabulous statue of ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness monster. Made from Scottish stone and designed by Scottish artist, Stuart Murdoch. It is a real serene place that I would spend a lot of time in if I was competing at the Commonwealth Games. This also shows how much Glasgow 2014 has made these Games a Scottish experience.
From the green you can access the real hub of the village, the dining hall. Athletes and staff will spend a huge amount of time in here. Trying to force food down when your stomach is in knots before your race. I loved the dining hall it’s a place to refuel but also to see friends and a chance to get away from the stresses of the competition. The organisers have done a really good job with the catering and there is almost everything you can imagine on offer including a gluten free section for athletes with allergies. There is also a nutritionist there so you can plan what you eat during the competition.
Friends and Family
The village has an ‘international zone’ where athletes parents and friends can come and visit. This is a really nice touch for the ‘friendly games’ so athletes can see their loved ones that have traveled miles to watch them compete. In the international zone there is a salon for athletes to get a little pampered. There’s a bar and a cafe so athletes can relax with their friends and family. There is a merchandise store so you can get all the momentous, a post office to send letters off to the family and there is even a salon in the village. While I was in the village I even had a chance to sample the salon and went for a diplomatic manicure to support both of the teams close to my heart.
The team accommodation blocks are the heart of each team. You know that this is where you’ll be lying trying to fall asleep the night before your big race. Each team decorates their own blocks, giving you a real sense of pride. Team Scotland have gone crazy with the bunting on Scotland street and it looks great! The England camp is called ‘The Lion’s Den’ and looks really impressive. Walking up to the Team England camp I was filled with disappointment that I wasn’t going to be wearing the kit or competing for England at this Commonwealth Games. However after spending some time there and chatting to a few members of the team I remembered why I chose not to compete this season and realised that I had made the right choice not to compete and keep my focus on the Rio Olympics in 2016. I am so ready and eager to start with my preparations next month. I am really glad that I came into the village to see what it was like and experience the atmosphere because it’s really inspired and motivated me more than ever to make sure that I get to Rio!