By Andrea Blackett, Commonwealth Gold Medalist
When I was given the opportunity to attend the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, I immediately accepted. There is nothing like being a part of such a grand event.
As an athlete, you really don’t think about how much goes into putting on games of this magnitude but I have been able to sit back and really take it all in now from the otherside.
Glasgow has stepped up to the challenge and taken the title that the Commonwealth Games is known for; the “friendly games” and ran with it. Every volunteer I have come in contact with; from the airport to the hotel, to the venues has been very friendly, helpful, and eager to please.
Although I have, an athlete here competing in athletics my goal for the games was to see as many other events as I could. The reason being, I have been to many multi-sport meets and have never ventured out to other venues. I would go from the village to the stadium and back to the village being as focused as I could be for my upcoming event. So for the first time I went to a cycling velodrome. I could never have imagined that it would have been such a thrilling experience. The intensity of the event, the skill of the riders, the atmosphere was unbelievable!
I also took in some swimming and was able to go out and support the netball team. Those girls are a group that I really have a lot of respect for. I really enjoyed watching the young sixteen-year-old Goal Attack (Thomas) make such a big impact on the team of much more experienced players. Watching team sports always fascinate me coming from a very individual sport. As a coach I know how difficult it can be to manage many different personalities. I like how our girls work together and support each other.
The weight lifting competition was another awesome first experience for me. Although it was disappointing to see our guy come away without a medal, I know he has a podium appearance coming in the future, and this experience will serve him well.
These Commonwealth games have been lots of firsts for me. First time not competing, first time watching different sports and first time being a personal coach at this level. One thing I know for sure, I prefer to be out there competing than coaching. I have not been this nervous since I retired from competition in 2007! I finally understand what my coach Victor Lopez went through with me for so many years. At the last minute I questioned so many things: wondered if I had remembered to tell Shane everything that he needed to know, had I adequately prepared him for this experience?
As we all know by now, the three Barbadian hurdlers made history by all making the games final. I am so proud to have been there to see history made. I have every confidence that this will not be the only time we see these guys lineup in a major final together. These guys are our future, and they are all solid medal chances for Rio 2016.
It is difficult to accurately express what it meant to see Shane win a bronze medal in the 110m hurdles 16 years after I did. The further away my Commonwealth medal run gets, the more I realize how important that day was for me and my country.
Up until January of this year, my medal was tucked away in a drawer. My creative friend Keitha Moseley-Dendy couldn’t believe that it was there, and she worked her magic. She made a shadow box that displays the medal along with a uniform, and it sits in my living room now.
There is no greater feeling than representing your country well. As our anthem says “we write our names on history’s page with expectations great.” Barbados’ future looks bright and the pages of sporting history need to be filled with many more medal winning performances.