Team Scotland athletes are headed for Hampden next month – but Ayrshire will be the first base for the track and field squad.
Kilmarnock’s Ayrshire Athletics Arena track and field and the Menzies Irvine Hotel will play host to a large percentage of the 58-strong Team Scotland in the crucial final days before Glasgow 2014.
And, while athletes will move into the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village in Glasgow’s East End immediately prior to competing, the man in charge believes Ayrshire will provide the perfect centre for final preparations.
The arrangements are via partnerships between scottishathletics, East Ayrshire Leisure, North Ayrshire Council and Commonwealth Games Scotland.
During their time at the AAA and the Menzies Irvine Hotel, it is expected elite Team Scotland athletes will spend some time linking in with the community while also enjoying the right kind of environment to prepare mentally and physically for Hampden.
‘We’re all looking forward to heading to Irvine and Kilmarnock for the final ‘training camp’ just before the Games begin,’ said Stephen Maguire, the scottishathletics Director of Coaching who will take charge of the team.
‘I’ve been delighted with the relationships we have forged with North Ayrshire and the team at Menzies Irvine Hotel as well with East Ayrshire Leisure and the staff at the track in Kilmarnock.
‘It is all about creating a positive environment for athletes and their personal coaches.
‘We have a very large team; one with a lot of potential.
‘We are ‘fine-tuning’ with athletes and coaches on their plans for the last few days before competition and that should mean a very large number passing through Ayrshire.
‘The Ayrshire Athletics Arena is a superb facility and it looks ideal to me for the kind of training and preparation we want to do.
‘I am talking about our Team Scotland athletes being there from three or four days before the Opening Ceremony at Celtic Park through to the end of the Games.
‘Athletes will move into the Village before their event but hopefully the time in Kilmarnock and Irvine will be good for them individually and to foster a team spirit.
‘We have to strike a balance between creating the right atmosphere but also not completely distancing people from real life and living in a ‘bubble’.’
The impressive Ayrshire Athletics Arena was built at a cost of close to £7m to East Ayrshire Council and will stage the scottishathletics Senior Champs on the weekend of August 16/17 – two weeks after the end of the Games.
Councillor Douglas Reid, Chair of East Ayrshire Leisure, said: ‘We’re delighted that the Ayrshire Athletics Arena has been chosen as Team Scotland’s base for the Commonwealth Games and is not only testament to the incredible facilities we have on offer but also the dedication and professionalism of our staff based there.
‘We look forward to welcoming all the athletes and are keen to start discussions about them becoming involved in events with our local communities.’
Athletes and coaches will be staying in Irvine while training in Kilmarnock and Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, Councillor Alan Hill, said: ‘We’re delighted that Team Scotland’s track and field athletes have chosen North Ayrshire as their base for the Commonwealth Games.
‘We are really looking forward to welcoming the team, and I have no doubt that they will receive a great deal of support from our local residents.
‘The excitement for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is really building up here in North Ayrshire with the Queen’s Baton Relay arriving just one week ahead of the Games – as anticipation is at fever pitch.
‘The Council has been working together with local community groups and individuals to make sure the celebrations are one to remember, and the arrival of the track and field team will certainly add to the excitement.’
Tuathal Breheny, General manager of the Menzies Irvine Hotel, said: ‘Menzies Irvine Hotel are absolutely thrilled to be hosting so many athletes from Team Scotland.
‘We leapt at the chance to host the athletes and contribute to the success of the events, especially in the midst of such an historic year for Scotland. We are sure it will be an experience both the competitors and the team at the hotel will never forget.’
Enter the Scottish Senior Champs at Kilmarnock on August 16/17 here: