A CHEEKY cartoon mascot called Clyde is to help spread the word about Glasgow's Commonwealth Games in 2014.
The zip-sliding, street-dancing thistle, designed by a 12-year-old schoolgirl, was yesterday unveiled as the official mascot for the games.
Upstaging Olympic heroes Michael Jamieson and Rebecca Adlington at the official unveiling, Clyde has been described as "curious, confident and cheeky" and comes with a backstory narrated by the world's best-known Glaswegian, Billy Connolly.
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The winning design, by Beth Gilmour from Cumbernauld, was chosen from around 4000 entries, with the Games organisers selecting a mascot they insisted should be both Scottish and Glaswegian.
Lenzie Academy pupil Beth, a competitive swimmer and badminton player, found she had won the UK-wide competition when a crew from children's tele-vision programme Blue Peter turned up at her house.
With Clyde kept under wraps until yesterday, Beth had been forced to keep her winning design a secret for a fortnight and even had to feign illness to avoid travelling to the event with her classmates.
The 2014 team said Beth's design was chosen for its "Scottish symbolism and Glaswegian charm and likeability", adding that "her entry interpreted this much-loved symbol with a youthful energy, embodied by a cheeky facial expression, and strong, sporty thistle arms and legs".
They also claimed the thistle "uniquely represents a symbol as much at home in the modern, urban heart of Scotland's largest city as it is in Scotland's remote, epic landscapes".
The mascot will now embark on a tour of Scotland, starting with visits to Glasgow primary schools, and will play a role in any landmark moments in the run up to the Games.
There will also be a limited run of Clyde merchandise heading towards Christmas, with more made commercially available in the 18 months leading up to the Games.
A senior Games source denied the thistle represented an all-too-obvious symbol of modern Scotland, adding: "London 2012 tried to think out of the box with Wenlock and Mandeville and look how successful that was."
Lord Smith, Glasgow 2014 chairman, said: "Clyde's very Glasgow isn't he? A bit cheeky and with lots of life."
Clyde's video, voiced by Connolly, an official ambassador of the Games, tells how the thistle was planted by Captain Bristle and taken around the Commonwealth on HMS Shipshape. The captain then returned to his base on the River Clyde where the thistle came to life.
Beth said: "I was really excited, but I was more shocked that I would win something as big. It's just amazing.
"My idea was that he was definitely Scottish and friendly and sporty, which is why he is a thistle, and on my entry I actually drew him running and winking so he's a wee bit cheeky as well.
"It's exactly how I pictured it in real life. I'm looking forward to seeing it on the build-up to the Games, on T-shirts and buses."
Jamieson said: "Beth's done a fantastic job in designing Clyde and I think he really does represent Glasgow and Scotland.
"It is one of the faces of the Games and it's seen by so many people on the billboards, posters and at the venues as well."
Connolly said: "Clyde's a great wee thistle and it's a very, very good idea and a fantastic design by Beth. The thistle is the perfect choice and has a great history and meaning in Scotland, plus Clyde's got a smashing haircut that makes him very modern and gives him a lovely edge."