Athletes' village officially opens: Gavin Hastings is first 'chieftain'

A host of Scotland's most successful athletes are to act as 'chieftains' of the athletes' village at the Commonwealth Games.

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Former rugby captain Gavin Hastings officially opened the village in the east end of Glasgow today as the first of the athletes and their support teams arrive.

Hastings is the first chieftain and will be joined by Sir Chris Hoy, rower Katherine Grainger, swimmer David Carry, former gymnast Steve Frew, Scotland's most capped hockey player Rhona Simpson and hammer thrower Shirley Addison.

Their duties include presiding over the team welcome ceremonies for each nation, hosting receptions and visits from the royal family and heads of state, and conducting VIP tours of the village.

Organisers said the Commonwealth village usually has a 'mayor' appointed for the competition but chieftains were introduced to give it a Scottish theme.

Adventurer Mark Beaumont, who travelled with the Queen's baton relay across much of the Commonwealth, will also be a chieftain along with some Scottish athletes who win gold medals at Glasgow 2014.

The chieftains will not be staying in the village but will spend a lot of time in the areas where teams arrive for the competition.

As the first in post, Hastings hosted the official opening which featured a colourful performance by the National Youth Theatre Great Britain (NYT).

"It's a huge honour to be one of the first people to see the village never mind be chieftain," the 52-year-old said.

"Seeing the National Youth Theatre perform was brilliant and it really encapsulates everything you expect the Games village to represent, it was positive, colourful and energetic and that's what's going to be here over the next fortnight or so.

"It's a bit different, and I'll be meeting the different teams and visitors, although I'll be looking out for the rugby sevens guys. We'll be wishing them all well and if we can give them some advice hopefully we can do that."

The NYT show featured dozens of performers in kilts and tartan trousers who danced with pop-up tents and on top of giant cargo boxes.

It featured musicians, singers and dancers from across the UK and Glaswegians from the NYT's inclusion workshops in Easterhouse.

References in the performance, which was watched in the centre of the village by organisers, volunteers, politicians and some of the Commonwealth teams that have already arrived, included the Scottish rain, the Duke of Wellington's cone and the fondness for fish and chips.

Anya Chalotra, 18, who played one of the main parts, said: "It was amazing, it was our own opening ceremony. We've spent about four weeks preparing, and working outdoors is obviously different from the stage but it was great fun.

"We have around 30 performances to welcome the different teams and we're trying to learn a few lines from different languages to make each one unique.

"It's great to work with people from Scotland and across the country and shows that the Games are a cultural festival as well as a sporting event."

The village has its own pub, post office, beauty salon, mini-hospital and shops in the 35-hectare site.

It cost around £230 million to build the 700-house village which will host 4,500 competitors and another 2,300 support staff from the 71 countries taking part.

Afterwards the properties will be sold or rented with a new 120-bed care home for the elderly also to be established on the site.

Each bedroom has two single beds, a couple of bedside cabinets and a wardrobe, with some of the furniture used at the London 2012 Olympics.

The dining hall has a menu offering 2,000 different items and will serve an expected 390,000 meals during the competition. Open round the clock, there will be 600 people on shift in the specially built £1 million kitchen to plate up a range of dishes.

Some Scottish athletes as well as officials from the Australian and English teams started arriving at the village today.

Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg said: "The village is key to the overall success of the Games and a vital component is to make sure all the athletes and visitors receive the warmest of Scottish welcomes when they arrive.

"I'm sure each of our chieftains will bring huge amounts of energy and personal experience to the role."

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