Sport

Bring it on!

BY NIK SIMON IN GLASGOW

Thursday, July 24, 2014    

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The spotlight fell on Scotland last night as the eyes of the world turned to Glasgow for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

On the warmest evening of the year, the colours of 71 different nations transformed Celtic Park into a sea of brightness and the mood of the host city shone through.

Not even the absence of Usain Bolt, who opted not to attend the ceremony, could detract from the fever that has welcomed the next 11 days of competition.

There were more than 40,000 fans packed into the stadium and the sell-out audience was treated to an evening with the Queen, who declared the Games officially open, after arriving to a fly-over from the Red Arrows.

Her Majesty said: "The baton relay represents a calling together of people from every part of the Commonwealth and serves as a reminder of our shared ideals and ambitions as a diverse, resourceful and cohesive family.

"And now, that baton has arrived here in Glasgow, a city renowned for its dynamic cultural and sporting achievements and for the warmth of its people, for this opening ceremony of the Friendly Games."

The Friendly Games will be fiercely contested over the coming days, and the athletes were welcomed by a dazzling display of pyrotechnics as the sun set and Glasgow came to its feet.

Nations great and small paraded around the perimeter of the stage - each country led out by a Scottish Terrier. Africa, Americas, Asia, Caribbean, Europe and Oceania all showed off their colours - greeted by 1,319 volunteer performers ranging from eight to 85 years old.

A high bar was set by Danny Boyle's spectacular opening ceremony at London 2012, and Glasgow was never going to reach the same heights. The Commonwealth Games, after all, play second fiddle to the Olympics. But there were moments of brilliance and Scotland thrived in their moment to shine. A stunning performance from the Scottish Ballet, telling the story of two young lovers in the highlands, and music from Susan Boyle and Rod Stewart all lay the foundations for the entertainment.

From the Irn Bru and black pudding on sale at the food stalls, to the endless collections of kilts and bagpipes; this was an evening with a distinctly Glaswegian feel.

Speeches from delegates followed, but it was the words of Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, that best tuned in with the sentiment. "Let Glasgow flourish," he said. "And as for the Games... bring it on."

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