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It's showtime

In Glasgow's George Square yesterday anticipation was mounting in the last weekend before the Commonwealth Games start as a stream of tourists and locals posed for pictures in front of the "Big G" installation, despite an afternoon deluge of rain.

Among them was Angela Mance, a teacher from Kent, impressed by a city she had found to be "vibrant and busy". She will be one of the volunteers at the Games and was visiting Glasgow just for the weekend to pick up her uniform, before returning back to the city on Wednesday.

"I was a Games-Maker at the Olympics - the Olympics changed my life because I volunteer for everything now," she said. "I am looking forward to everything about the Commonwealth Games, the atmosphere, the people and just being involved really."

Maria Ortega Kummer, 55, from Ohio, was visiting Glasgow with her husband, Kevin and friends Gary and Que Travis from Philadelphia.

She said: "It is our fourth time here in Glasgow. I think there are more flowers and it is more cleaned up than when we were last here five years ago. I think it looks better and it looks fresher."

The constant queue at the Commonwealth Games ticket office in the square indicated demand for tickets is still high. There are also chances to watch some events for free - including the triathlon events at Strathclyde Park, where special zones will be set up for spectators.

Esther Gaolapise, who is originally from Botswana but now lives in Glasgow, had already secured tickets for the athletics but was hoping to be able to buy tickets for the Opening Ceremony.

"It is so exciting, the city looks so nice and well organised," she said. "You can see they have really planned for this. I think this event will be really good for Glasgow."

Neil Anderson, 53, from Possilpark, said he was particularly looking forward to the cultural events happening around the Games. But he added: "I think some of the money could have been better spent - was it really necessary to repaint the post boxes red?"

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson has pledged the Games will be a catalyst for development that "has and will transform the landscape and the opportunities available in Glasgow".

The spotlight is now firmly on Glasgow as it prepares to host one of the world's major sporting events. But even before the first events get under way, an international summit will discuss how the plans to transform the city by hosting the Commonwealth Games can now provide a "blueprint" for others to follow.

The Beyond the Games event, being held tomorrow at Glasgow Caledonian University, will discuss how high-profile sporting events can contribute to social change.

Adam Fraser, spokesman for conference organiser Beyond Sport, said one focus would be on how the actions taken by Glasgow to establish a legacy from the Games can provide a "blueprint" for other cities.

He said: "It is almost to establish a great starting point - a blueprint - to say next time when the Games are hosted by the Gold Coast [in Australia] they can look back to what Glasgow did ... and learn from a social and community side.

"This is the first time that everyone has come together ahead of one of these events to really learn from it ahead of it taking place."

The building excitement ahead of the Games Opening Ceremony on Wednesday will be heightened today as the Queen's Baton Relay arrives back in the Glasgow following its tour of the 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.

One hitch has been a suspected norovirus outbreak in the Athletes' Village ahead of the Games. Health officials yesterday said a further five workers had been affected by the sickness and diarrhoea bug, taking the total to 53 - but added the number of new cases was continuing to decline.

The long list of improvements undertaken so far includes £200 million spent on constructing new sports facilities, including the Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Dalmarnock, in the city's east end, has undergone a major transformation as the home of the Athletes' Village.

Other legacy ambitions from the Scottish Government range from getting Scots more physically active to increasing employment and business opportunities.

Paul Zealey, head of engagement and legacy at Glasgow 2014, said they had worked closely in the past three years with partners including the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to deliver the legacy aims.

"Even before the Opening Ceremony we can already show thousands of individuals and businesses and communities really benefiting from Glasgow hosting the Games this summer," he said.

Many point to the example of the Commonwealth Games in 2002 in Manchester as how the event can help regenerate a city.

However, Kevin Ward, professor of human geography at the University of Manchester said much of this could be due to the rising fortunes of Manchester City Football club, who moved to the athletics stadium following the end of the Games.

He said: "If you walk around east Manchester now, where the Commonwealth Games was, the only regeneration game in town is basically Manchester City Football Club."

He added: "It is a two-week sporting event, you can't expect it to solve all the problems Glasgow faces in terms of social and economic disadvantage."

Peter Kelly, director of charity The Poverty Alliance, said there was enormous potential for a "real legacy" from the Games.

But he cautioned: "I'm hoping plans are being put in place that we don't lose any momentum.

"Regeneration is about much more than bricks and mortar, it is a process where communities feel involved and take control and I hope that is part of these Games."

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