June 4,2014(ISN) – With less than 50 days to go until the 2014 Commonwealth Games get underway, Scotland’s National Stadium Hampden Park is ready to welcome some of the world’s top athletes as the track was officially unveiled here today.
The home of Scottish football has been closed since December last year and has been undergoing a transformation in order to be ready to host more than 48 athletics events as well as the Closing Ceremony during the Games, which is due to take place from July 23 to August 3.
The pitch at Hampden has been raised by almost two metres using a temporary deck which is made up of 1,200 base panels supported by more than 6,000 structural steel stilts.
The repositioning of the famous Glasgow turf will allow the necessary width and length to be gained for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) approved track.
The stadium’s first taste of top class international athletics action is due to be next month’s IAAF Diamond League meeting on July 11 and 12, before the main event gets underway less than two weeks later.
The newly laid track and infield at Hampden Park have been raised by almost two metres to meet the requirements for an IAAF event ©ITG
“To have now a world-class athletics track and field facility here at what is traditionally a football stadium and to have all the technology work to achieve this, we are enormously proud to be in this position,” Glasgow 2014 chief executive David Grevemberg told insidethegames.
“This is a really big moment not only because of the scale and scope of this project but also for the sport of athletics throughout the Commonwealth which is alive and well.
“We are excited that with less than 50 days to go we now have this development completed and great athletics competition will be taking place here in just a few weeks time.”
The main transformation work has been carried out by Scottish firm Malcolm Construction using what has been dubbed the “Glasgow solution”.
Similar techniques have been used for setting up temporary tracks at events such as the Great City Games in Manchester and the Great North City Games in Newcastle but the Hampden Park project has been the largest of its kind to date.
The sound of the starter’s gun will be heard for the first time at Hampden Park when the IAAF Diamond League takes place next month ©ITG
As part of the development a warm-up track has also been installed at Lesser Hampden nearby with organisers claiming the total budget for the work has come in on budget at £14 million ($23 million/€17 million).
“It’s been a fantastic journey and I think the aspiration to do something different and to do it in a sustainable fashion and something that is right for Glasgow has always been at the front of our minds in terms of this particular part of the project,” said Grevemberg.
“Malcolm Construction has been the principle lead in the whole development and transformation of this and they done just a fantastic job.
“The systematic approach of putting this together on time and on budget is just a real testament to getting the right partners on board and they have done a remarkable job.”
The capacity at Hampden Park will be reduced from over 50,000 to 40,000 for the seven days of athletics action during Glasgow 2014, which will see more than 1,000 athletes competing on the newly laid track and in-field area.
One of those athletes who will be looking to compete for medals is Scottish distance runner Eilish McColgan, invited to be the first athlete to test out the new track along with children from the nearby Mount Florida Primary School.
McColgan will be competing in the women’s 3,000 metre steeplechase and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her famous mother, who as Liz Lynch secured Commonwealth gold the last time the Games were in Scotland in Edinburgh in 1986, winning the 10,000m with a memorable performance.
“My mum has told me all about the unbelievable atmosphere and overwhelming support of the crowd when she competed and won gold in front of a home crowd at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and I know that’s a standout memory of all her races throughout the years,” said the 23-year-old.
Eilish McColgan will be hoping to replicate her mother Liz who won Commonwealth gold the last time the Games were in Scotland at Edinburgh 1986 ©Getty Images
For Eilish, this will be a first Commonwealth Games experience after missing out on Delhi 2010 following an injury picked up at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune.
She competed in the Olympics at London 2012 but did not make the women’s steeplechase final but is looking forward to getting out on the new track and feeling the Hampden roar.
“I’m just so excited at the prospect of competing in a home Games and she’s [her mother] told me the support I’ll have from the Scottish crown as a Scottish athlete will be on another level.”