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Trust me, Glasgow doesn't know what is about to hit it . . .

I HAVE not had many regrets since I retired from badminton 18 months ago; in fact, I don't think I've had any.

But on July 23, I know I will regret not being part of Team Scotland when they walk on to Celtic Park for the opening ceremony of Glasgow 2014.

Competing in the Commonwealth Games is a great feat for any athlete. The chance to do so in at home is a privilege extended to very few.

I have competed in three editions; my first was in Manchester in 2002 when I was a raw, inexperienced 19-year-old. I thought I knew what to expect, but I couldn't have been more underprepared. A multi-sport event is unlike anything else you have come across - any athlete from any sport will, I know, agree.

Manchester was as close to a home Games as I ever got, although with the number of Scotland supporters in the crowd at Bolton Arena, we could easily have been at home.

The Scottish badminton team made history at that event; we won Scotland's first, and to date, only team medal, a bronze. It remains one of my best memories of my career.

In an individual sport, where one's foremost concern is oneself, it is rare to share the joy of success with team-mates as we did that week.

After one of the best moments of my career, a week later I experienced one of my worst. In the last eight of the singles, I played England's No.1 Tracey Hallam. I was the clear underdog. I had match point for a medal and I lost. It broke my heart. No matter that I was young, or that people told me I would have another shot to win a Commonwealth medal, I would never again have such a strong chance of gold. Four years later, going into the Games in Melbourne there were high expectations on my shoulders of coming home with a medal. This time, I won bronze in the singles and I will never, ever forget standing on the podium to receive my medal with the Scottish flag wrapped around me.

My final Commonwealth Games was in Delhi, four years ago. Badminton is one of India's most popular sports and their top female player is one of the country's most prominent athletes. The stadium was packed every day and when I played Saina Nehwal, who is the Indian equivalent of Jessica Ennis, the noise was incredible. Playing in an atmosphere such as that made all the hard training worthwhile. There was just a tiny pocket of Scottish supporters cheering for me - mainly athletes from other sports who had come along to watch - but it is surprising just how much noise a few tipsy hockey girls can make.

Some of the most enjoyable moments of my 14-year career came from the Commonwealth Games. The athletes village is one of my favourite places. In comparison to the soulless hotels that are almost always the accommodation when going round the circuit, year-in, year-out, the village is an experience to behold. The most fun moments of my career have been in the athletes villages at Commonwealth Games.

Whether it was seeing Chris Hoy in his pants in Melbourne (I was in the physio room; don't call the police), or playing electricity bingo in Delhi (we would guess, upon returning to our flat each night, whether or not the electricity would be on), the village is the one place where you can get away from the madness of the real Games.

The vital element that sets the Commonwealth Games apart from every other event is that it gives athletes the opportunity to represent Scotland rather than GB, which is what makes this event quite so special. Glasgow 2014 will be subjected to the obvious comparisons with London 2012 as a result of the proximity of the events, but the two are not comparable.

The Olympics will always be the pinnacle of every athlete's career but the Commonwealth Games is something different, particularly with it being in Scotland. It has a friendliness and an intimacy that the Olympics lacks due to its size.

There is also the chance for spectators to support Scottish athletes in sports which are rarely afforded such a platform. Crowds often do not fully appreciate just how valuable an asset they can be. Team GB's stunning medal count at London 2012 is credited, in a large part, to the home-support factor.

I'm not convinced that Glasgow knows quite what is about to hit it when the Games begin in 71 days.

Every host city is utterly and fantastically consumed by their Commonwealth Games as soon as it begins; Glasgow will be no different. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the only chance many Scots will get to experience a Commonwealth Games first-hand. There is nothing quite like watching live sport and this is a chance for Scottish athletes to really make a name for themselves.

Glasgow will come alive this summer and I, for one, cannot wait.

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