The rangy, silver-haired man who will carry the Queen's baton through Drumchapel today makes jokes about being concerned that his replacement hips might prevent him from completing the journey.

It was not always so.

Nowadays Hugh Barrow is probably best known as a stalwart of Glasgow Hawks RFC and his efforts as a rugby administrator are doubtless a huge part of the reason for his nomination for the honour.

However, as much as he protests otherwise, this is an apt time to remind some and explain to others that this near-septuagenarian was once quite an athlete.

No more evidence is required than a look at a remarkable list, that of the 10 fastest mile times ever produced by British athletes under the age of 17. There is no Steve Ovett, no Steve Cram, no Sebastian Coe and no Peter Elliott upon it. Yet, 53 years after his run, in Dublin's Santry Stadium, three places above that of one Mohamed Farah, Barrow's name is fourth with what was, at the time, a national age group record.

His talent was subsequently recognised, albeit in a slightly back-handed way six years later, when he was asked to return to the same Irish venue as an unofficial pace-maker for none other than Kip Keino, as the father of Kenyan distance running made an ultimately failed bid to beat Jim Ryun's world mile record.

Keino would win gold at the following year's Olympics, while Barrow's candid explanation of his own absence from that jamboree, and the other multisports events of the era, speaks to the quality of Scottish and British athletics at that time.

"I made the Olympic qualifying time in 1968 but I wasn't good enough to make the British team," he says.

"The Commonwealth Games was a different story. Probably the time I had my best chance was 1962 because there was always a chance that they would take a youngster, but it was Perth, Australia, and I don't think they had enough money. In '66 I was injured and in '70 I was finished. That's the nature of sport."

All delivered in matter-of-fact tone, but a combination of Barrow's competitive interaction with the running greats of that time and his ongoing involvement as a sports administrator make him a fascinating man with whom to discuss sport both then and now.

Invited to do so he stresses that he is not one for looking back through rose-tinted spectacles but, when pressed, he accepts that there is a relevance when some national administrators have claimed that the current Scottish Commonwealth Games team is somehow superior to its predecessors.

"What you don't like is people constantly saying 'it was much better in my time'. I hate seeing that because it's nostalgia and it's selective. However, what adds validity to doing so is that whereas in sports like rugby the older you are the better you are, in athletics you have the unforgiving minute," he acknowledges.

"The stopwatch goes and you can argue about the track or the conditions, but you can't argue about the time and that's what the record book shows. So in athletics you are judged in a much harsher light than, say, team sports because you are judged on what you have done and you can't rewrite that with the passage of time."

Having trained in the sixties with Lachie Stewart - who set things rolling for Scotland in Edinburgh in 1970 by shocking Australian favourite Ron Clarke with his sprint finish in the 10,000 metres - and still heavily engaged with modern sport, Barrow is well placed to comment on how Scottish performance has dropped off in what he rightly describes as the core Commonwealth Games sport.

He notes that "distance running is a hard, grinding sport" and that Stewart, originally from the Vale of Leven, and Motherwell's Ian McCafferty, who took silver ahead of Keino as England-based Scot Ian Stewart claimed the 5000m title at that first Scotland-hosted Commonwealth Games, came from areas "probably considered deprived in modern terminology, but brought with them a certain robustness and hardness".

Yet in relating past to present Barrow prefers to focus on the pride his native city should be feeling about what it has contributed to the sporting world. "It's a strange thing and maybe sounds a bit corny but in this age of professional sport where so many come to drink from the wells, a lot of those wells were dug in Glasgow," he says.

"I feel there's something good about, for example, the three main stadiums being centrepiece because Hampden, Ibrox and Parkhead in a strange way all contributed to the main core sport of the Games, namely athletics, because all three had running tracks and all three had sports meetings. World records were set at Ibrox and people like Eric Liddell would train with Rangers and race at Parkhead.

"They talk about legacy, but the great thing about legacy is that it's not just about what Glasgow 2014 might be, it's also about what Glasgow 2014 inherited. They've inherited the traditions of institutions like Queen's Park, who brought football into the modern world, which in turn helped promote athletics."

Having run in the last of them in 1962 he added that the Rangers Sports cleverly combined pre-season professional five-a-side football with club and elite athletics in drawing attendances of 50,000 to 60,000.

"If it had been held today it would have been the equivalent of a Diamond League meeting such was the standard of the athletes," Barrow believes, while noting that was merely part of an overall culture of sporting innovation in the city.

"Queen's Park were so forward thinking, the first football club to have a press box, to have a car park, even before that introducing half the rules of football north of the border ... so forward thinking in so many ways. I've been involved in four clubs in my life - Victoria Park, Glasgow Accies, West of Scotland and Glasgow Hawks - and I feel privileged to have been involved in all four in different ways. I feel that in their own unique way they've all contributed something to sport in the city, and the common ground in all four of them has been the people."

The revival of the spirit that has lain behind the city's sporting success stories of yesteryear is, then, his greatest hope for what is to come over the days ahead.

"You only appreciate that with hindsight because you don't see it when you're competing, the people who gave their time, gave of themselves with no thought of reward because all they wanted to do was provide a platform on which young men and women could participate, and if they got better and went on that was reward enough," says this long-serving administrator.

"If there's something that could be done through legacy to bolster voluntary effort, which has withered a bit, it would be good."