Glasgow 2014: Sleepover in the Athletes' Village

Take a look around the Athletes' Village

So we are the guinea pigs. About 200 of us - members of the media, Glasgow 2014 staff, sponsors and others.

Armed with our wheel-along overnight cases with our pyjamas and toothbrushes we're off to "test run" the facilities in the Athletes' Villlage.

Security is tight. We are bussed in and on arrival face "airport style" security checks in the Welcome Centre.

We are told we are a "select band" who are being offered a "sneak peek".

It is an expansive site on the banks of the River Clyde - the size of 54 football pitches. Neatly built detached, semi-detached and terraced houses, sit alongside two seven storey apartment blocks and a building that after the Games will become a care home.

Unlike the high-rise blocks which were home to the athletes during London 2012 - this has much more of a village feel.

Athletes village
Athletes village

We are taken by golf-buggy to our home for the night, in the block which will house Team Canada. Much preparation has gone in to planning who sleeps where.

"What people maybe don't realise is all the different factors that have to be taken into consideration when housing the athletes," says accommodation manager Caroline Rodgers.

ATHLETES' VILLAGE IN NUMBERS

  • Size of 54 football pitches
  • 704 homes on site
  • 390,000 village meals
  • 2,000 different menu items

Expected to be used:

  • 30,0000 towels
  • 26,0000 bed sheets
  • 20,000 toilet rolls
  • 100,000 bin liners
  • 1,400 litres of liquid soap

"There are 71 competing teams with different numbers of athletes and officials. We also had to get a good understanding of any parasport athletes and make sure all the accommodation and facilities are fully accessible."

The houses are bright and functional with shared bedrooms and bathrooms and social areas where athletes can sit together - be it on oddly shaped beanbags.

For many of the athletes the furniture - beds, sofas and wardrobes - may look familiar as much of it was shipped up from the London Olympic village.

Former Olympic and Commonwealth hockey player Rhona Simpson was among a team of athletes who offered insight on the Glasgow village build.

She said she pushed for services such as wi-fi, which is available in all the rooms, and of course extendable beds for the taller athletes.

"I know how important an Athletes' Village is," she said.

"You get the opportunity to meet people from all the other nations of the Commonwealth, because you're living in the same place and seeing each other all the time.

"It's a really sociable environment and it's also a place where you get to see and meet the stars. Some of these people really are stars - even to the other athletes."

School drawings

The bedrooms remind me of student accommodation, with fire doors that close tightly behind you.

Colourful artwork above each bed was provided by school children from around Scotland and comes complete with little stamped-addressed postcards which the athletes can send back to the artists thanking them for the drawings.

After the Games the accommodation will undergo a "retro fit" and be transformed into family homes and flats. The tell-tale signs of that are obvious with stud walls and sockets in one of the downstairs bedroom marked "cooker" and "dishwasher".

Another reminder of my student days was the fire alarm. Safe to say ours was working well. We returned from our tour of the facilities to find it blaring but it was quickly and remotely sorted by the onsite accommodation staff.

dining hall
gym
dentist chair and football table

The village offers the athletes a raft of specialist facilities.

The Polyclinic (or medical centre) is staffed by specialist volunteers who will be on hand 24-hours a day to offer treatment and advice to athletes.

It looks and feels like a hospital A&E but will also provide services such as physiotherapy, pharmacy and emergency dental care. Huge mobile units outside the clinic house MRI and CT scanning equipment.

There are even ice baths available - but thankfully there was no pressure to give them a test run.

2,014 seats

There's also a gym, retail zone, religious centre and recreational spaces - "youth club" like areas where athletes can play table football or try out golf and dance simulators.

But perhaps most important of all is where they go to refuel. The massive dining hall is located opposite the village green and finally it is time for dinner.

Start Quote

The food stations reflect the taste of the Commonwealth, obviously featuring Scottish produce”

End Quote Craig Lear Catering manager

"About 400,000 meals will go through this facility, at peak periods up to 25,000 meals. We've got 2,014 seats here in the dining hall and we will turn them over about three times every meal period," says catering manager Craig Lear.

"The food stations reflect the taste of the Commonwealth, obviously featuring Scottish produce.

"We have a deli, a gluten-free toasting station because a lot of athletes like gluten-free in the morning. We have a grill, pizza and pasta, because they love their carbs, a classic section for a taste of the UK and a spice kitchen with a number of things which should hopefully give people a taste of home."

I start with some pizza and then try the chicken masala.

"It's not like your Glasgow masala," the chef serving me says. "It's from Pakistan and is all cooked in one pot. It is very good."

And he's right, it's delicious. But for dessert I can't see past home - some Arran Dairies ice-cream washed down with Irn Bru.

Inside the Athletes' Village
Athletes village

And then it is on for a post-dinner drink. At London 2012 there was no alcohol served in the Athletes' Village but at Glasgow The 9th Lane Bar is a nod to the 19th hole in golf.

Olympian and Glasgow 2014 athlete ambassador Shirley Addison explains: "Athletics tracks and swimming pools usually have eight lanes."

Start Quote

We just have to add an extra bit of sparkle ”

End Quote Tony Sainsbury General manager

She added: "I hope it will be a place for athletes to celebrate their successes, pick themselves up from disappointment and most importantly where lifelong friendships will be formed."

And so to bed - which was comfy and cosy.

The athletes normally take home the duvets as a souvenir from the Games. I'm tempted to try to stuff it into my overnight bag but I doubt it would fit and as one former athlete pointed out: "You get it home and you think what am I going to do with this."

With just over a week until the athletes begin to arrive, the village certainly feels almost ready with just a few finishing touches to be put in place.

"This event gives us an opportunity to have a look around and then gives us another week now to go round and smarten ourselves up," says general manger, Tony Sainsbury.

"We just have to add an extra bit of sparkle before the athletes arrive."

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