200 days and counting until Games launch

IN just 200 days the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow at the start of a spectacular sporting extravaganza.

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A massive 1.5 billion ­people are expected to tune in to watch the opening ­ceremony of the Commonwealth Games being held in Celtic Park in the East End.

The thousands of athletes who will make the trip to Scotland have already stepped up their training and are entering the final stages of qualifying competitions.

Later this month, the heads of the teams from all 70 nations will visit the city for their final briefings about what to expect.

Games organisers will move into the Athletes ­Village in Dalmarnock and last minute tickets will be snapped up by sports fans.

Already, work has begun to transform Scotland's ­national football stadium at Hampden into a world class athletics arena, complete with a warm-up track at Lesser Hampden.

In the next few months, most of the 15,000 volunteers will be given their Games-time roles and will undertake special training to prepare them for the big event.

The workforce, which ­totalled 250 at the beginning of last year, is now hitting 600 and will bounce up by a further 300 people in March ahead of the final push ­towards the Games when up to 1400 staff will be ­employed along with 30,000 contractors.

Information about the number of people coming to the city for the Games has been processed following the sale of tens of thousands of tickets and transport plans are being planned and put in place.

David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, said: "With only 200 days to go, the pace is quickening, the focus is on and the bottom line is decisions need to be made and a Games needs to be delivered.

"All of those become the priority.

"It is about making the dream become reality. That's our focus. And as challenges and issues are brought to our attention, we will be measured on how we resolve them.

"That's the really important thing, to understand what's the nature of it, why has it occurred, more importantly lets resolve it and get to the crux of it so we create an ultimately safe, once in a lifetime, world class ­environment - that's the mission."

As well as the organisers, 200 days is also a "critical" marker for athletes as they enter the final months of training before the competition begins.

To mark the occasion, Team Scotland has revealed a series of incredible images around the theme of 'proud'.

They show 10 'ones to watch' in different places across the country which are meaningful for the athlete.

Jon Doig, chef de mission for Team Scotland, said the team was on track to secure the biggest haul of medals achieved by Scotland at any Games.

He said: "The signs are looking good at the moment. As we move into the coming year those final selections it will give us a better idea and we will also be able to see what their competitors in the Commonwealth selection are likely to be doing.

"We had a target of having our best ever Games and we are happy that we are on track for that at the moment.

"But it's sport, there are a lot of things that can happen between now and then, we'll have people that come from nowhere, or will move very quickly through that process.

"We will always have ­people who are looking to deal with illness and injury and we have a great support team in place to ensure that any impact on that side is minimised.

"For the athletes, around the 200 days to go time is ­really critical in terms of their preparations."

In the coming months, most of the athlete selection will take place ahead of the final event.

At the moment, athletes are working hard to ensure they qualify.

Mr Doig said: "Between March and the end of May is when the bulk of the athlete selection will take place for the final event.

"So, a lot of what people are doing at the moment is preparing for those events.

"We have got some ­athletes that are already selected so they will be away doing their warm weather training and getting a lot of training in so they can peek at the right time for the Games."

matty.sutton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Sport

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