With two years until the next Olympics, the #Commonwealth Games are often a good opportunity for new talent to appear in front of the cameras for the first time. Rather than being under the umbrella of GB and NI, unusually the UK's nation states compete individually and thereby giving a chance for younger athletes to make the break-through. It is one of the few opportunities where athletes from Isle of Man, the Falklands or Jersey get to represent their islands as opposed to being part of a wider team. One of the strengths of the Commonwealth Games is that young athletes get the chance to face international competition for the first time. New talent can be discovered and then the right coaches can be put in place to work with them for future competitions.

Advertisements
Advertisements

As with London, it will be hoped that more people, particularly youngsters, will be inspired to take up sport. Already in the pools of Shetland, young swimmers have been overheard saying "I want to swim like Erraid."

In Glasgow 2014, the young talent certainly shone. A poll of favourite memories taken from the BBC website put 16 year-old Claudia Frangipane's four gold medals as the most popular story, ahead of 13 year-old Erraid Davies in second. Third place was voted 19 year-old Ross Murdoch's astonishment in not only winning the 200m breast stroke but beating Glasgow poster boy Michael Jamieson in the process. The performances of the teenagers have therefore taken the limelight and it will hopefully be the stimulus for them to move on to greater success. Due mention should also be given to 14 year-old Matthew Dixon who, despite looking a little boy on top of the ten metre board, finished a creditable eighth in the diving pool behind Tom Daley's gold.

Advertisements

Two years intensive training and the expected physical development as teenagers reach adulthood should put the current crop of young British stars in good stead for Rio 2016. But is has not all been about the new athletes.

Established athletes, like para athlete David Weir, saw it as a chance to collect their full set of medals before calling it a day. On the final day of competition, Emma Pooley, 31, finished second in the 98k road race after helping compatriot Lizzie Armistead to gold. She announced it to be her final race and was in tears of joy after a nine year cycling career. Armistead's herself was delighted to finally achieve first place after silvers in London 2012 and Dehli in 2010. Another stand-out moment came in the rugby where South Africa caused a shock victory over the All-Blacks in the rugby sevens, the first time in five Games that New Zealand had not come away with the gold. South Africa however are no newcomers to rugby as their 1995 Mandela inspired World Cup victory would testify.

Advertisements

Everyone seemed to up their game and their performances really mattered. You could see that in the eyes of the England women's hockey team who were 14 seconds away from gold before losing on penalties to Australia. The next day their male counterparts were equally as determined and, after a 3-3 draw against New Zealand, were delighted to win the bronze medal - again on penalties.

Everywhere you looked stories of human interest abounded, and not just for the young pretenders. Euan Burton came out of judo retirement to secure a gold medal for Scotland to gain partial redemption for an early exit in London, whilst his wife Gemma Gibbons, representing England, had to settle for silver. A puncture nearly scuppered Geraint Thomas' bid for gold and perhaps the emotional Lynsey Sharp's silver in the 800m, despite being on a drip and vomiting the previous night, provided one of the largest "Hampden roars" of the tournament. Inspiration for the older athletes came from Jo Pavey who, at the age of 40 and 10 months after the birth of her second child, won a bronze medal for England in the women's 5000 metres. Not everyone will turn into a champion athlete, but if people can be encouraged to take up sport then the nation's health will benefit. At whatever level, sport should be accessible to all.

The best example from Glasgow 2014 perhaps came from an athlete who did not win a medal but used sport to turn his life around. 40 year old Steve Way came tenth in the marathon a mere seven years after being sixteen stone and an addicted smoker. He has now set the marathon record for a 40 year old and proved that at any age, success is still possible. Sometimes it is down to motivation; you have to have the desire to achieve. Young or old, let the next person take up the baton.