In 1990, after watching the rhythmic gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland, I successfully persuaded my mum to buy me a ribbon. It was yellow and I loved it. I have fond memories of playing with it excessively at school playtimes and at home.
It will come as no surprise that that was the limit of my passion for rhythmic gymnastics. But I am sure there were others who watched the same Games and took it further.
The first four days of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games have been tremendous. Team Scotland sits third in the medal table, the sun has shone and the crowds have been lively, generous and supportive of all athletes.
It has been inspiring stuff. Who hasn’t watched a momentous sporting event and then had the sudden urge to go out and pick up a tennis racket, kick a ball or take a dive at the local pool?
For some, it may go no further than that. But there will be those who find themselves starting to time their cycle around the block and then pushing themselves to go that little bit faster. For these people, the Games inspire them to learn, train and compete. It inspires them to be the Chris Hoys of the future.
The legacy of the Games has to be a fresh commitment to Scots, particularly young Scots, leading healthy and active lives. But it is not just about physical health; it is also about mental health.
The benefits of exercise to mental well-being are well established. Healthier, happier kids grow up to be healthier, happier adults and have healthier, happier families.
Improving the health of our country’s children should be a priority for all politicians – whatever the party. We need an improved attitude to physical and mental health in this country that is instilled in childhood and lasts a lifetime.
In May, a report by Strathclyde University gave Scotland’s children an F for overall physical activity. I was shocked earlier this month to read that 100 Scots a month have amputations linked to obesity. In 2012, 17% of children in Scotland were at risk of obesity, a rise of 1% since 2003. We need bold and ambitious policies to tackle these problems.
I want to play my part in ensuring the best possible provision of physical education in schools and opportunities for all kids to get involved in sport. I want to play my part in ensuring great local facilities and support for coaches and community clubs so that the legacy of Glasgow 2014 is not just for Glasgow, but also for the whole country.
The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is an amazing addition to the nation’s sporting resources but unless we make daring changes in our approach to health and fitness the length and breadth of the country, the Velodrome won’t reach its maximum potential – and neither will our children.