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Legacy and what it means to those who lived it . . .

IT'S been the buzz word ever since Glasgow was awarded the Commonwealth Games in November 2007, just as it was when London was granted the 2012 Olympics two years earlier.

Wells with the torch at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Lenny Warren
Wells with the torch at Buckingham Palace. Picture: Lenny Warren

"Legacy" has many meanings for many people and Scottish sporting heroes of the past have gathered to recount their tales of glory and to share their hopes for how next summer might inspire future athletes and the nation as a whole.

The 21 voices, including those of gold medallists Allan Wells, Gregor Tait, Steve Frew and Shirley McIntosh, feature on a new website Legacy 2014 launched by the Glasgow organising committee and aimed at capitalising on the feel-good factor the Games will provide.

With Scotland on the brink of a vote on self-determination, there is a tangible sense that the Games will offer an opportunity to demonstrate what the country is truly capable of.

Indeed, as the website itself announces "Legacy" is "about using the unique opportunity of the Games to deliver lasting change across the whole of Scotland - now, in the run-up to the Games, and in the years beyond".

There should be no surprise about the Scottish government's desire to promote lasting benefits in business, health and sport, irrespective of the outcome of the independence vote which will take place a mere six weeks after the Games end.

For some, such as Dick McTaggart, a boxing gold medallist at the 1958 Games in Cardiff, there is a hope that independence will not cloud the picture and that the British public will unite behind the Scotland team next summer. The Dundonian still remembers the effect the cheering crowd had on him as he boxed his way to gold.

"The support at home is a huge factor for a fighter and when I competed in Cardiff it was a home crowd for me. To this day I still remember walking into the arena with everyone cheering my name and our young fighters will have that experience in Glasgow next year. Nothing can match it and it does give you that edge. Hosting an event such as the Commonwealth Games is a huge honour. I want it to inspire more people to get involved in sport."

Wells, a name synonymous with Games success having won six medals, is under no illusions about how important the 1970 edition in Edinburgh had in playing a role in his successes.

"A small part of the legacy from the Commonwealth Games coming to Edinburgh in 1970 was the new track built at Meadowbank Stadium. For me, it is a small legacy, which has had an immense impact on my life," he recalled. "And whilst the Games as an event is for the athletes, the legacy is for the people of Glasgow and Scotland. I hope seeing new world-class facilities being built on their doorsteps will inspire more young people to get active and, for those already involved in sport, to get to the next level. Having the Commonwealth Games come to Edinburgh all those years ago certainly did this for me."

For Susan Egelstaff, who represented Scotland in badmintion at three Commonwealth Games, winning team bronze at Manchester 2002 and individual bronze at Melbourne 2006, the legacy of the Games in 2014 is just as important as the sporting prowess the world will witness over the 11-day competition.

"It's so exciting to be part of the Commonwealth Games and I hope more young Scots see just how much it has impacted lives like mine and feel inspired to reach for their own goals. If I manage to encourage even just one person to pick up a badminton racquet and give it a go then I've done something right!"

As Scotland's most successful competitor in a single Games, Gregor Tait is optimistic that the event will be something that will benefit generations to come.

"I know Scotland can put on the greatest show of all time and put our compact country on the map - after all, people only need to see how amazing a place it is to fall in love with it."

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