The wraps have come off to unveil a healthier future

MOST cities selected to stage massive sporting events like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games opt to keep the doors closed until the athletes arrive.

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It is regarded as the easiest way to keep their new and upgraded venues looking shiny and bright.

There is also a wow factor when the public see for the first time where their millions of pounds have been spent.

Glasgow decided not to follow their lead and instead was determined the people of the city should be the first to use the state-of-the art facilities which will be enjoyed by the world's top sportsmen and women.

It is a decision which has paid off with attendances at just two Games venues topping more than 1.3million.

It is often reported that the average life expectancy at birth for men in the East End is 68.1 years, five years lower than the Scottish average. As a result, it must have been with some trepidation the city council decided to spend £113million building the Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

It is a decision which has paid off already and one which looks as if it will benefit local residents for generations to come.

New figures show more than 600,000 people have visited the Emirates with just under 200,000 attending fitness classes and the Glasgow Club gym.

Importantly, more than 60% of its new members live in the area, in the shadow of Celtic Park.

The Velodrome is already the busiest in Britain and there is a lengthy waiting list for a place on the cycle track. It is to be hoped the Games will spark even more interest and enthusiasm in the Emirates and push visitor numbers higher still. It is the same story at Tollcross International Swimming Centre which benefitted from a £13.8m council funded upgrade.

Attendances at the sports centre stand at 680,000 making it one of the busiest sports facilities in Scotland. Nobody would argue that spending £127m on two centres is a major risk.

But in Glasgow's case, it has proven to be a risk which was worth taking, with more people opting to get active in stunning venues just yards from their doorsteps.

And letting people in before the Games was an inspired decision. The council could have kept the centres for the athletes and only opened the doors to local people when the sports elite left town,

But by letting the public use them before the Games they have ensured the ownership of the venues is firmly with local people.

Lord Provost Sadie Docherty has also put the people first since she was handed the civic chain.

She recently fulfilled her promise to visit every primary school in the city in her drive to encourage youngsters to be proud of where they live.

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