As the countdown to the London 2012 Olympics accelerates, Glasgow played host to the Olympic torch relay on the 8th of June. The torch was carried by celebrities, athletes and members of the Glasgow community alike as it travelled passed several iconic sites in the city……
The event began as the torch visited Toryglen Regional Football Centre, carried by 3 time Olympic silver medalist Katherine Grainger. Cheered on by 1,500 excited schoolchildren, a proud Grainger said, “Today showed that it is not just Olympians who get excited by the torch. I think for people at an impressionable age to be this close to the flame is amazing for them. It's a moment they will remember for rest of their life.”
National School Sports Week
The torch’s arrival in Glasgow was the ideal opportunity for sportscotland to kick-start the 3rd annual National School Sports Week which involved 1,950 schools and over half a million pupils across every local authority in Scotland. The event at Toryglen alone reached 1,500 children from all over Glasgow as they took part in Olympic and Paralympic Sport taster sessions before the torch arrived. Sports such as Football, Badminton, Athletics, Boccia and many more were set up to allow the children an opportunity to take part in them and have fun.
This launched the National School Sports Week, which then ran from June 11th – June 15th, promoting sport all over Scotland. This year the NSSW involves over 75% of schools across Scotland, which is a third up from the previous year signalling a massive increase in participation. Sally Hancock, Olympic Marketing Director for Lloyds Banking Group, stated, “That is a great testimony that the 2012 Games do reach every corner of the UK.”
Through the week of sport various activities and festivals were held to celebrate and boost participation in sport. At Scotstoun, an Olympic themed event was held to signify NSSW in conjunction with the imminent beginning of the Olympics.
The Torch Relay would then leave Toryglen and continue into the evening, where thousands of Glaswegians lined the streets and cheered on the Torch bearers. The procession moved from Glasgow’s west end through the city centre and on to the final destination of George Square, where there was an open air concert with acts such as General Fiasco, Emili Sande and Eliza Doolittle.
The waiting crowds welcomed the torch with the friendliness and enthusiasm the city is renowned for and now eagerly await the opening ceremony in London on the 27th of July. The welcome from the crowd was a fitting reception for the torch bearers who included actor James McAvoy amongst many inspiring members of Glasgow’s communities. There was also representation for Glasgow Sport with Rebecca Morrris, a member of Glasgow Sport Young Leaders, and Gillian Boyle, member of the Volunteer Improvement Programme. Both of these inspirational young people have been keen members of volunteer programmes coordinated by Glasgow Sport, which have invested in their development and benefited from their dedication. These two volunteers were recognised for their outstanding contribution to their communities and fully merited their opportunity to carry the Olympic flame. The moment was made even more special when Rebecca passed on the flame to Gillian (pictured).
This was not the only involvement Glasgow Sport had in the event. In order to ensure the event ran smoothly Glasgow Sport supported it through the Glasgow Ambassadors Programme (GAP). On the evening of the torch relay, 76 ambassadors where based at 4 different points on the torch relay route. The Ambassadors Programme is vital to the delivery of the Olympic football in Glasgow, with committed volunteers ensuring that everyone who attends receives a warm welcome and can tap into a vast amount of local knowledge. During the Olympics in Glasgow and indeed for the Torch Relay the Ambassadors will be the face of the city, and through their commitment and knowledge they will enhance the Olympic experience to all who participate in it.