Glasgow & West Scotland

Commonwealth Games athletes' village nears completion

Athletes Adam Cox and Lynsey Gallagher

Logistical problems are nothing new to the organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but spare a thought for Juliet Thorne.

She is the resident services manager for the athletes' village, which is about to be handed over to Glasgow 2014 by the contractors tasked with building it.

The 88-hectare area in Dalmarnock in the city's east end, with its brand-new houses and streets, will be home to 6,500 athletes in the summer.

Thorne's role requires tact, diplomacy and problem-solving skills by the digger-load.

She has to place the teams, from the scores of competing nations and territories, in the complex - a challenge she jokingly describes as being worse than arranging a seating plan at a wedding.

"It's a huge jigsaw," she tells BBC Scotland. "We have 70 teams to fit into the accommodation.

"For us it's about working with teams on their preferences of where they'd like to be, what facilities they'd like to be close to, but also the practicalities of fitting everybody in.

"Some teams like to be close to each other, some teams don't."

Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel, one of four construction firms working on the project, highlights the unusual dual nature of the project.

"One of the things you have to bear in mind is that this is going to be a permanent community, regenerating the east end of Glasgow," he explains.

"That's got to be our primary focus, not withstanding we want this to be a great place for the athletes when they visit Glasgow."

It may have seemed like a design brief with a headache attached.

The facilities have to be suitable for the thousands of athletes and para-athletes from across the globe, constructing communal living areas and lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, but with no need for kitchens - yet - as a special dining hall will be erected.

On completion in January, the village will be handed over by Glasgow Council and City Legacy to the Games organisers to create a global, colourful gathering place.

Councillor Archie Graham, Glasgow Council's executive member for the Commonwealth Games, said the houses and sports facilities "have been built for the people of Glasgow".

He said: "We're simply lending them to the Commonwealth Games so we can have a fantastic Games next year, but the most important thing for us is legacy from the Games, and not just for people from the east end but throughout the city."

When the closing ceremony at Hampden marks the end of the Games on Sunday 3 August, work will begin in the months to follow to convert the athletes' accommodation into 700 homes and flats for people to live in.

The place of camaraderie and friendly rivalry, of winners and, of course, losers, will become a new community.

The village will undergo a re-fit. Partition walls will be sealed up, living rooms converted into loft space, bedrooms will become kitchens in family homes.

The first permanent residents will arrive in December and, while we still don't know which sporting stars are coming to Glasgow next summer, there will be some new owners that have a good story to tell.

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