Glasgow 2014 Chief Executive David Grevemberg was recently interviewed by Lourdes Secondary pupils Sophie Reilly and Ruth Neilson. Both girls are 5th year pupils at the school and are involved in the Determined to Report journalism programme run by Glasgow City Council. Their report of the interview has now appeared in Glasgow City Council’s “Shoutit!” newspaper, produced by pupils and distributed throughout the city. You can read the full interview below…
I grew up in inner city New Orleans. My mother was a social worker and worked with churches and gangs to bring people together. New Orleans is a fairly diverse community and I was the only white kid for blocks which taught me a lot about appreciating diversity and trying to understand. Sport was around me from day one at the playground I used to play at. I was given the chance to go out of the city centre into the suburbs to a private school which was also a big transition for me. I really started my wrestling career here and was successful; I wrestled a bit nationally and internationally through school and college. When I was about 18 I went 1500 miles to complete my undergraduate degree in Sports Management. Wrestling was something that came with me and it carried me all the way through college. Unfortunately I had an injury that stopped me from doing it. I had to move on and do other things which is when I started doing Sports Management.
I did some work with the USA Olympic Committee in the grants and planning division which is very similar to Sport Scotland where you got to see all the different national governing bodies all the different sports how they are run. I was put in charge of putting together the high performance plan for the US Paralympics Team going to Atlanta. This was an amazing experience because the way I looked at it these are athletes with different eligibility requirements they are not disabled athletes they are just athletes. I’m an athlete, you’re an athlete, let’s make sure you are treated like an athlete and we really pushed that forward.
I spent 16 years in the Paralympics movement and was asked by the International Paralympics Committee to write their qualifications criteria for each of the Paralympics games. In 1999 I was made Sports Director for the International Paralympics Committee and moved from United States to Germany; I did that for 11 years before coming to Glasgow, where I have received an amazing welcome. I think the thing with Glasgow is that it embodies so much of the Commonwealth – it has a great chance to show the Commonwealth what it means to be a great a Commonwealth citizen.
My main role as CEO of the Commonwealth Games is to make sure that our vision and our mission is protected. Our vision is really in three parts, always keeping the organisation and athletes in the sports the focus; to create a celebration that is celebrated not only throughout Glasgow and Scotland but throughout the Commonwealth and thirdly to make sure that everything we do leaves a lasting legacy for Glasgow and for Scotland.
One of my proudest achievements I have to say is the response that we’ve had from the people getting involved. 50% of the Commonwealth, that’s a billion plus people, are 25 years of age or younger and for us to engage and empower young people as part of this journey is an achievement. Getting young people such as yourselves, not just talking about values but actually taking the time to action those values; that I feel most proud of. Sitting in front of you I’m inspired and just amazed by, I question myself at your age would I be doing this, I just think that is what it’s all about.
I always talk about challenges as opportunities. I think probably, the number one challenge that you’re facing in any multi-sport games it’s just getting people to know what they expect, know where they’re going. Sport in so many ways gives us the opportunity to dare greatly, to showcase our determination to recognise accomplishment. Look at Sir Chris Hoy and his performance during London 2012, it didn’t matter where or who you were in the world, everyone appreciated that performance, and were inspired by his graciousness, humility on the podium and his sense of accomplishment. Those moments bring us all closer together. The more we practise sport the more we can use sport to find ways of pushing ourselves forward in humanity. I wrote a bit of a poem on daring greatly when I left the IPC which outlines how I think sport challenges us to dare greatly and I think Glasgow 2014 is doing just that. It’s daring greatly.
I think Scotland performs so well in a number of sports, in Delhi shooting was by far one of the most successful sports and that will be taking place in Dundee. In swimming you’ve got Michael Jamieson, Hannah Miley and others coming through the ranks. I know Commonwealth Games Scotland is working very hard with sportscotland and the Institute of Sport to prepare the team to be successful in a home team environment and I think that’s something that I look forward to seeing.
The legacy for youngsters of Glasgow is people’s confidence; we do what we say and we say what we do and we can do it; it’s different than anywhere else in the world and we can do it. Don’t be afraid of your ambitions, manage your anxieties and be ambitious and go after your dreams. The more we can get that message out to young people the better all of our futures are I think that’s a real potential here in Glasgow.
I have two messages for Glasgow pupils and their parents and carer; the first is to say thank you to everyone for their support to date. Secondly is that we’ve got almost a year to get ready to welcome the world. Let’s all do what we can to make Glasgow proud and to be a shining example of the city we come from.