As the Commonwealth Games approach, Scotland is set to dazzle its visitors.
The Cayman Islands will be one of 71 competing countries at the 2014 Games, the 20th edition of the competition. Cayman has its largest team ever, under the guidance of the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, as 26 athletes tackle seven sports – athletics, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, shooting, squash and swimming. All of the local athletes are in Glasgow preparing for their events as the Games run from July 23 to Aug. 3, with most going into action on July 24.
One of the biggest Scottish spectacles will be the opening ceremony, 8 p.m. Scotland time (2 p.m. Cayman time) from Celtic Park on July 23. The closing ceremony will be at the same time at Hampden Park on Aug. 3. There are expected to be 40,000 people in Celtic Park with millions watching on TV around the world. Headlining the launch of the Games will be pop singer Rod Stewart, 69. Stewart, whose father was Scottish, had six consecutive number one albums in the U.K. charts and 31 top 10 singles.
For organizers like David Grevemberg, the presence of Stewart and celebrities like Scottish-born singer Susan Boyle are a welcome boost.
“They will join the thousands of people who are part of our cast for a unique celebration of the host city and nation which will not only welcome the athletes to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, but which will also be seen and enjoyed across the world,” Grevemberg said.
Aside from the competitors, a host of dignitaries will be present at the Games. Cayman will be cheered on by Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden and chief officer for the Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture Jennifer Ahearn.
Enjoying their support will be the athletics team of Tyrell Cuffy, Ronald Forbes, David Hamil, Kemar Hyman, Troy Long, Carl Morgan, Carlos Morgan and Ashleigh Nalty. Squash will feature Myron Blair, Eilidh Bridgeman, Julian Jervis, Daniel Murphy, Cameron Stafford and Marlene West.
Geoffrey Butler, Lara Butler, David Ebanks, Brett Fraser, Lauren Hew and Alex McCallum are the swimmers. Christopher Jackson, Edison McLean and Andrew Schirn form the shooting team. Boxer Tafari Ebanks, gymnast Bethany Dikau and cyclist Michele Smith round out the competitors.
Javelin thrower Alex Pascal, 19, had been selected for the team but is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Sprinter Rhymiech Adolphus was also selected but is unable to attend.
There were some early concerns about the Games, from the level of security needed being the largest for any event in Scotland’s history to the outbreak of the stomach virus. The Athletes’ Village saw the norovirus – a contagious diarrhea and vomiting bug – affect 53 workers as of July 19. The virus did not affect any member of the Cayman delegation or any athletes from competing countries.
The third largest multi-sport event in the world – after the Olympic Games and the Asian Games – is expected to feature 4,500 athletes. The spectacle incorporates athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, which has 53 member countries. Aside from traditional Olympic disciplines like athletics and swimming, additional sports – such as netball – that are played largely in Commonwealth countries are included in the competition schedule.
The Commonwealth Games were first held in 1930 and take place every four years. British Overseas Territories, such as Cayman, crown dependencies and island states compete under their own flag. The four home nations of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – also send separate squads. The travel costs for athletes and coaches from competing nations like Cayman is being handled by the Commonwealth Games Federation, which oversees the competition and selects the host cities.