The five of us head for Glasgow on the train from Ayr. Even though I am not in general a fan of cities, Glasgow is looking good. We spend some time on the green but pass up the opportunity of queuing for an hour to have our pictures taken by the Games’ logo. We compromise by queuing not at all and being portrayed by its reverse image. With a bit of judicious photo-shopping I even make it look like we are standing on the right side! Every busker in Scotland is clearly taking the opportunity to benefit from Glasgow’s time in the spotlight. Quality varies; my favourite was the elderly lady in a headscarf with her accordion. We pass various athletes we can’t identify in the streets of Glasgow. Walking through the jewellery quarter our men folk like the look of the £29.50 price tags until they realise it is £2950. There is also a clothes shop with virtually no stock but a window display containing over 1000 old sewing machines. I bet they don’t change their display very often. Unfortunately the reflections from the glass make it difficult to photograph. There are a number of impressive murals on the walls and everyone is very friendly. We follow a ‘Clyde Trail’, seeing how many Games’ mascots we can spot without walking ourselves into the ground, bearing in mind that Martha has Edward to carry.
With Martha and I involved in the planning it is inevitable that those of our party heading for the Games do so in good time. We have decided that a teething Edward probably won’t cope with an evening session so Martha loses out, Chris has passed on participation so Rob and I board a vomit filled train for Mount Florida station and Hampden Park. We are of course far too early and have to wait for security to open but the journey has been hassle free and lacking in delays. I wonder why the huge queues on the other side of the road are not getting on the numerous empty buses that pass but it turns out that they too are waiting for security. The security staff do their best to entertain the queue and we are soon through to the stadium. We have excellent seats with a good view of the decathlon javelin, which is one of the first events. There are plenty of finals on the programme this evening. The women’s triple jump is on the far side of the stadium and England’s Laura Samuels wins silver. The woman’s 10,000 metres ends in a clean sweep for Kenya but is particularly interesting for the three laps in the middle when the field was led by Beth Potter of Scotland.
The semi finals of the men’s 400 metres feature Martin Rooney who is head and shoulders taller than the other competitors. Medal ceremonies come thick and fast and we are destined to hear the Jamaican anthem often enough to know it by heart. The ceremonies for yesterday’s 100 metres finals have been held over to today so more chance for us to practice the Jamaican anthem and we see Adam Gemili awarded his silver medal. Alongside the cool radio controlled vans that retrieve the missiles in throwing events, the synchronised hurdle arranging, involving many of the workforce, appeals. Will Sharman gets the silver medal for England in the 110 metre hurdles. Then there is an inevitable Jamaican one, two, three in the women’s 400 metres.
I am very excited to see that one of the Scottish hammer competitors is Andy Frost, who went to school with Rebecca and who I remember being born when his family lived across the road. Sadly tonight is not his night and he just misses out on a chance for an additional three throws but England get the silver. The final decathlon event, the 1500 metres, is exciting with two English competitors in medal contention. In the end Ashley Bryant improves his standings to come home with the silver and somewhat of a pattern seems to be emerging.
Rob and I have our exit strategy planned like a military operation. We watch the final event from the top of the stadium. It is the women’s 1500 metres and guess what, England get the silver medal, thanks to Laura Weightman. As the athletes cross the line we are gone and by the dint of swift walking, we reach Mount Florida station just as the platform is filled to capacity and a train is drawing in. I cannot see how all these people are going to fit on one train but it turns out that many of them are not heading for Glasgow. We are on the train and there isn’t even anyone standing. Once in Glasgow we make the Ayr train with five minutes to spare so are running an hour and a half earlier than our expected scenario. Chris kindly meets us at the station, just a shame that he is at one entrance and we come out of the other. We are back in our respective vans by midnight, which is probably just as well as Rob is due to be on the 6.50 train in the morning in order to go back to the Games.
The next day, after a morning catching up, I take the train to Glasgow where I meet Martha, Rob and Edward. We call in at the Museum of Modern Art and although Edward likes the mirrors and stained glass, we decide we don’t quite ‘get’ most of the exhibits. Today we time our journey to Hampden Park better and there is no queue for security. There is a debate as to whether my kindle requires scanning but the verdict is that it does not. Quite how I might secrete contraband in a kindle I have no idea.
A stereotypical Glasgow mizzle has set in at the start of the evening; particularly trying for those competing in the field events. We are at the other end of the stadium tonight and higher up. This makes it hard for us to see the sixth event of the heptathlon, which is the javelin; two English competitors are in with a chance of a medal. We have a much better view of the men’s high jump final in which England come fourth. There is a stupendous reception for Greg Rutherford as the long jump final gets underway; the weather has improved by this time. Meanwhile the Hampden crowd goes mad for Eilish McColgan, daughter of Liz, who manages a season’s best in the steeplechase, behind a predictable Kenyan one, two, three. We see the medal ceremony for the 1500 metres from last night. Then the final heptathlon event, the 800 metres, where England’s Jessica Taylor hangs on to the bronze medal in a race against the Jamaican athlete.
Valerie Adams begins her defence of the shot put at our end of the stadium. The people sitting in front of us seem to know one of the athletes, clearly this gives them the right to stand up and block our view at random moments. Martin Rooney just misses out on a medal in the men’s 400 metres, which is won by Kirani James in a new games’ record. Meanwhile another games’ record is slaughtered by Australia’s Kim Mickle when she throws the javelin more than three metres further than the previous record. The men’s 800 metre semi-finals feature David Rudisha and England’s Michael Rimmer also scrapes into the final.
Edward, Earl of Wessex is the token royal in residence and he presents Kirani James with his medal. The Grenadan national anthem is very jolly and makes a change from those of Jamaica and Kenya. Next comes death by women’s 200 metres heats, of which there are eight. The stadium begins haemorrhaging spectators. Not only does this seem rude to the athletes, it is also unfair on all those who applied for tickets and were unsuccessful. We agree to remain for these heats, in which we see all three English competitors safely make the final. We also form part of a dramatically reduced audience who wait to view the three final medal ceremonies, including that of Greg Rutherford. Our theory is that, as people have steadily been leaving the stadium for best part of an hour, they will be on their way making it easier for us to secure transport. This was fine as a theory but sadly they are not quite far enough on their way and we have to queue to be allowed on the railway platform. The station staff are doing their best to keep the passengers in a good mood with ‘Glaswegian waves’ (pretty indistinguishable from the Mexican sort) and singing. We get a seat on the train but are later leaving this time and also just miss our connection at Glasgow, so we arrive in Ayr an hour later than yesterday but it has been worth it to be part of another great sporting occasion.