With less than eight months to go until the 20th Commonwealth Games begin in Glasgow, preparations are accelerating faster than Usain Bolt out of the starting blocks. And right at the heart of the organizing team for the ‘friendly games’ is Manx-born Alexa Wood.
The 30-year-old, who works as a Venue Technology Manager for the Glasgow 2014 organising team, was born and grew up in the Isle of Man. Her family are from Castletown and she attended Ballasalla Primary School and King William’s College. Alexa’s passion for sport started as a child. She sailed with the Isle of Man Yacht Club and played hockey for the Saracens and Phoenix clubs, and represented the Isle of Man at Under 21 mixed team level.
Following completion of her A-levels at ‘King Bill’s’ she went to Edinburgh University and graduated in 2006 with a BSc in Biology and Psychology. After returning to the Island to work as a sailing teacher at the 7thWave Sailing Activities Centre in Port Erin, Alexa worked for NHS Isle of Man in Psychology Services. Her passion for sport took her to France where she took a job in the ski industry, and this was followed by a move to New Zealand to work at ski resorts there. This proved to be a catalyst to her career in event management as she worked at the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games, Challenge Wanaka Ironman triathlon event, Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow, the Southland Stags ITM Rugby team and the Super 15 Highlanders Rugby team. Her career in New Zealand culminated with working on the Rugby Union World Cup in 2011 in a venue operations role which involved helping to manage a stadium used for the early rounds of the tournament.
After being inspired by the London 2012 Olympics she thought it was the ideal time to return to the Britain. She applied for a job as a Venue Technology Manager with Glasgow 2014 – a role Alexa has now held since February 2012. She said: “At games time I will be based at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) on the River Clyde which will host seven sports during the Games - boxing, gymnastics, judo, netball , wrestling and weightlifting and powerlifting. It will also host the main media centre during the Games, and the international broadcast media centre.”
Her job involves managing the planning, designing, and building of all of the technological infrastructure required. This includes organising contractors to install wi-fi and broadband and all of the related computing, cabling and distribution points required by all the media to send reports about the Games around the world. Alexa and her colleagues are also responsible for making sure that all of the technology used by competitors, team support staff, Games organisers and administrators and spectators is installed on time. This ranges from technology used by ticket systems to big screens around Games venues displaying live action and the latest results.
“When someone wins a gold medal everyone will want to know the moment it has happened so there is a huge demand on technology and the media to make the news accessible hence we are working hard to get all the infrastructure in place to allow that to happen. Around 50,000 volunteers applied for the 15,000 volunteer vacancies available at the Glasgow 2014 – that’s the highest number of volunteer applications for any Commonwealth Games. Well over 90% of tickets have already been sold too. The success of the volunteer campaign and ticket sales have made everyone involved feel just how close we now are to the Games beginning. Fans are buying their tickets and booking their accommodation and as we head into the New Year the atmosphere will increase massively. It’s really exciting because work has already started on the major venues. For example, the installation of the athletics track at Hampden Park, which involves an ingenious construction plan to raise the level of the track a metre and half above where the football pitch now, has already started. I recently rode the trail at Cathkin Braes Country Park which will be used for the mountain bike events – it’s a short and fast course with some really good spectator points with views across Glasgow and many other Games venues.”
Alexa has no doubt that Glasgow 2014 will put on a memorable Games for athletes and spectators. “It’s such a vibrant, friendly city. At any time you can’t walk through Glasgow without someone saying hello to you, and that friendly atmosphere will just be heightened by the Games. People here are so passionate about the Games – you can never accuse the Scots of not being enthusiastic about their country.” The Games may be eight months away, but Team Isle of Man already has a supporter right in the heart of the host city. “I champion Team Isle of Man in all our meetings. Whenever the Isle of Man gets mentioned there’s a ‘whoop’ from me and I’ve got a Manx flag pinned up in my office,” she adds.
The team which the Isle of Man sends to Glasgow 2014 relies on fundraising events organized by the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association, and donations made to the Association which is a registered charity. For the latest news about Team Isle of Man go to www.cga.im which also allows donations to be made to the team.
Photo - Alexa Wood outside Commonwealth House which is the HQ for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.