I can't believe today has finally arrived and tonight Team England will proudly march out into Celtic Park at the Opening Ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games. It is with such a great sense of pride that I, as Chef de Mission of the team, sit here reflecting on the journey that has led us to the eve of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
After one of our best ever Games in Delhi, we made a commitment to the athletes to further enhance their experience at Games time and I genuinely believe we have fulfilled that promise. Athletes have been at the heart of every decision we have taken since Delhi and they have shaped so many of our choices, from our kit supplier and design to the values we sign up to as a Team.
This is one of the largest ever teams that England has taken to a Commonwealth Games with more than 420 athletes ready to respresent their country and do our supporters proud. The team is drawn from 17 sports, but here in Glasgow we unite as a single team with a single spirit and a single passion – competing! This is a genuinely exciting team compromising 12 Olympic Champions, multiple Paralympic Champions and medallists as well as inspiring younger talent that are already starting to have an impact on the senior stage.
So what can you expect from Team England? Medals of that there's no doubt. English athletes can always be relied on to deliver medals for their own country. There's no doubt it is getting harder when you look at the international landscape. It is not just Team England who have stepped up, every other nation, not least our hosts Scotland, have done the same and there are less medals available here than there were in Delhi and significantly less than we challenged for in Manchester.
But we want to push ourselves and have ambition, we slipped to third in the medal table in Delhi and want to reverse that and our medal target is to win between 130-145 medals. But as important, if not more, than any medal table is to see every single athlete go out and compete at their very best under the flag of St George. As a Chef de Mission, athletes fulfilling their potential on such a large stage is important to me.
Glasgow will provide a fitting backdrop for such performances, I have been hugely impressed with the way the city has prepared for these Games and the venues are truly world class. Our athletes will have the privilege of competing in front of passionate crowds where sporting rivalry will be intense, and the respect and camaraderie between competitors will be obvious. It is this combination that will make Glasgow such a access.
Finally I'd like to thank you – our supporters. Knowing that there is a roar of support coming from south of the border means everything to our athletes and we hope we will do you proud.
Best wishes and enjoy the Games
Chef de Mission, Team England