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Duel in the Pool success shows what we can do when we put our minds to it

Hannah Miley, veteran of two Olympics and umpteen world and European championships, was every bit the kid at Christmas as she bubbled with excitement last weekend, offering the ultimate endorsement of what has been achieved by Glasgow Life in the upgrading of Tollcross.

Governing bodies of other minor Scottish sports need to look at the example set by Scottish Swimming at Duel in the Pool
Governing bodies of other minor Scottish sports need to look at the example set by Scottish Swimming at Duel in the Pool

"I'm buzzed . . . it's incredible . . . it's just amazing," were all packed in among the first 25 words uttered as she unleashed her emotions following Duel in the Pool, and that even after she and her European team-mates had lost. "Walking out, seeing the crowd, feeling the buzz and hearing how loud they were just makes you smile," she said. "It lifts you and makes you stand tall. It makes you feel proud to be Scottish. I don't know whether I'm being biased because I'm Scottish, but we did such an amazing job."

Pair those comments with fellow Commonwealth gold medallist Robbie Renwick's observation that Scottish swimmers rarely get a chance to compete against the best in the world and this is what the prospect of hosting a major Games should be all about.

The Commonwealth Games themselves will, it is hoped, be an 11-day wonder but - with proof having been provided that if the package is right the very best will come - the thing that really matters is what they set up for the future.

While Miley admitted that it will always be tricky to do so, given the different schedules of all involved, she observed that: "If we were able to do this more it really would push us to just swim out of our skin mid-season."

Doubtless it would be difficult, but the staging of an event of Duel in the Pool's magnitude in their backyard represents the opportunity afforded to Scottish Swimming in the creation of these facilities. Such was the level of interest from the public at hefty ticket prices that - on a slightly different scale - it is perfectly reasonable to suggest there would be considerable all-round benefit in staging Test matches in a similar format against national teams from other countries on a regular basis.

Swimming clearly has its legacy opportunity, then, but the same should apply to every one of the 18 sports rostered at these Games. By the time they are finished each of them should have had exposure to the equivalent of the stunning atmosphere that greeted the athletes who were lucky enough to take part in Duel in the Pool.

Facing the world's best in what are relatively minor sports may be rare for Scottish competitors, but it becomes easier to allow them to do so more frequently if there is tried and tested evidence of Scotland's capacity to stage the type of events that can attract those athletes. In turn, seeing Scots competing at that level can provide inspiration to future generations.

Scottish Swimming has not just been given an opportunity, but also a huge responsibility to capitalise. The facilities are there and they have been shown how to do it. The same can be said for gymnastics after its World Cup event across Glasgow's east end at the Emirates Arena earlier in the month.

However, it cannot be the case that only one or two favoured sports gain from what should be Scotland's greatest ever sporting year. Just as the governing bodies of the sports must learn from what they are exposed to, so too the Games organisers have a responsibility to ensure that all of those sports are given a practical demonstration of how, realistically, to bring the very best in their field to this country. All relevant partners have a duty to ensure that every sport is left with something replicable in the future.

In that light, just as at Tollcross last weekend, it was hugely encouraging to be at the Emirates last month to witness badminton's Scottish International Grand Prix. With all due respect to our Celtic cousins it was only when I visited the much more modestly run Welsh international badminton tournament the following week that full context was offered on just how superbly run and presented the Scottish event was.

For all the excitement generated by events such as Duel in the Pool, the gymnastics World Cup and badminton's Grand Prix, though, there can be no room for complacency and never has the job of those whose role it is to scrutinise and to challenge been more important. To that end it was slightly disturbing recently to discuss Games coverage with a journalist from another paper and be told - as if a choice had to be made between two options - that "we're going on the positive side of it."

Over the next six months or so it will be right to revel in and reflect the excitement of events put on to showcase facilities and that of athletes such as Miley as they ready themselves for the big event. In terms of what stands to be gained there will be no point in being wise after it if every sport does not get the Tollcross/Emirates experience.

The Christmas message from Herald Sport, then, is that we will be looking, in the months ahead, to ask the right questions of governing bodies and organisers to ensure that the vast public expenditure is generating the returns we want for our youngsters.

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