Scotland puts on spectacular show

05:33, Jul 24 2014
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
A inflatable Loch Ness joins the fun.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
A daring barrel-top dance is performed at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the 2014 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Jets fly Commonwealth colours overhead.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Rod Stewart performs during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Queen Elizabeth at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Crowds at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
John Barrowman performs during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
A Scottish Terrier walks with his handler as the team name bearer for India. Each competing nation has its own Terrier.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Rod Stewart performs during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Team New Zealand march in led by Valerie Adams.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Crowds at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Susan Boyle performs at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Crowds at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Crowds at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Team New Zealand march in led by Valerie Adams.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Australia march in.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Crowds at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Performers at the opening ceremony.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Team New Zealand march in led by Valerie Adams.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
Team England snap a selfie.
Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
The Red Arrows airforce team streak the Glasgow sky with red, white, and blue as the Queen arrives.

Lorde an Australian? Oh dear. Talk about an early hiccup for New Zealand when their toughest Commonwealth Games medal foes Australia entered a heaving Celtic Park to the Kiwi teen's hit song, Royals.

No matter. It was time for Valerie Adams to take charge, and she did, striding in boldly and wielding the New Zealand flag like a light sabre. Adams wore it well, loving every second of her lap of the towering, impressive stadium, as she will next Thursday when she claims her third successive shot put gold at nearby Hampden Park.

Just over half the 232-strong team in black followed their leader, beaming and waving between Nauru and Niue as the Commonwealth received a colourful Scottish welcome. The packed house stood and roared, Queen Elizabeth reigned and rocker Rod Stewart was king on his hallowed football turf.

The Queen
ROYAL WELCOME: The Queen arrives at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

Another gaggle of Kiwi athletes lounged on bean bags back at the village - triathletes, cyclists and swimmers amongst them - watching the festivities on TV and resting their legs and minds for day one of 11.

The unintentional trans-Tasman joust - with Lorde's tune sandwiched between AC/DC's Back In Black and Men At Work's Down Under - was a nice precursor to the sporting action. With Olympic team Great Britain split into four, Australia are dominant favourites to top the medal tally and provide the toughest obstacles to gold for New Zealand, starting at the pool and velodrome.

Particularly in the team sports, Australia have an edge in netball and men's and women's hockey, while the sevens rugby team in black should have the green and golds covered and face their sternest challenge from South Africa. New Zealand's only stated aim is to top the 36 medals they won in Delhi; with 45 in Manchester 2002 (including 11 golds) their best effort of the last five Games.

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For now, it was all about Scotland, with a team of 310 and a country preparing to vote on its independence in six weeks. This was their show. It was possibly the strongest display of national fervour before a live TV audience since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, to the strains of Stewart, Simple Minds and The Proclaimers as a plethora of colourful performers sang and danced. "Welcome to Scotland," was the booming refrain from the announcer; actors Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy were the big Hollywood names and even cricketing royalty Sachin Tendulkar popped up via video link.

Still, the Queen received the biggest roar of the night and a standing ovation, confirming the Scots don't want to wave goodbye to her just yet, even if they form their own government.

Glasgow turned on a cracking 25 degree Celsius day and balmy evening. "It's like the south of France down here," bellowed one announcer from Glasgow Green. And the show was equally spectacular to usher in the 20th edition of the Games as the sun took an eternity to set on the party.

Nice touches were everywhere. Scottish terriers and their owners led in each of the 71 teams. Cycling legend Chris Hoy - whose velodrome will carry plenty of New Zealand medal hopes - made the final run with the Queen's baton, passed on by his 97-year-old great uncle Andy Coogan who even tried to rise from his wheelchair.

Comedian Billy Connolly paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, recalling how Glasgow named a street after him in 1986 when the future South African leader was still imprisoned. Mandela's speech of thanks was replayed on the giant screen.

There were poignant moments, too, with a moment's silence for people from the Commonwealth who died in flight MH-17 over Ukraine.

Then it was time to unleash the fireworks and let the Games begin, as politics fades to background for just over a week and the athletes do their thing, at long last.

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