CORRESPONDENT - Stephen Hewson

11:31 am on 4 August 2014

Learning our accommodation for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was directly across the road from where 10 people died when a helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub last November meant the event started on a somewhat sombre note.

The damp overcast conditions and the aroma of the fishmongers just around the corner didn't improve the situation.

Add to that an underlying sense that, look at someone the wrong way and things could turn ugly quite quickly, meant that just a few days before the 20th edition of the "Friendly Games" might not be so friendly.

Tributes at the derelict Clutha pub.

Tributes at the derelict Clutha pub. Photo: RNZ

But a light-hearted and self deprecating opening ceremony, celebrating things essentially Scottish like Irn Bru and Tunnock's cakes, seemed to suddenly flick a switch for Glaswegians.

Out came the smiles and the sun too. There were even sightings of people using umbrellas to shelter themselves from the beating sun - unheard of in these parts.

While the sun didn't stick round, in fact at times it was decidedly 'druckit' (Glaswegian for persisting down), the smiles did remain.

Games mascot Clyde the Thistle.

Games mascot Clyde the Thistle. Photo: RNZ

New Zealand athletes will look back on these Games with a degree of fondness.

Fourteen gold medals in total is the second highest gold medal count for New Zealand at a Commonwealth Games, sitting only behind the 17 won in Auckland in 1990.

With 45 medals in all, New Zealand finished sixth on the medal table, with England at the top followed by Australia, Canada, Scotland and India.

Cycling was the standout success, as it should have been with $6 million of investment from High Performance Sport New Zealand, helping track, road and mountain bikers to 14 medals - six of them gold.

While being among the country's targeted sports means they're some of the chosen few funding wise, their success should be celebrated.

The individual sprinters led by Sam Webster are young and continue to improve, and the one-two finish by teenage mountain bikers Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze was another standout effort.

The world champion team sprint continued their world championship dominance to win gold, while the team pursuiters are better than their bronze medal effort.

Linda Villumsen's win in the road time trial has been long deserved. She finished with silver in Delhi four years ago and was fourth in the London Olympics, while at world championship level she's has never quite been able to stand on the top step of the podium.

David Nyika after winning the Mens Light Heavyweight 81kg final.

David Nyika after winning the Mens Light Heavyweight 81kg final. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

There were special moments too: the emotion from teenage Hamilton boxer David Nyika when he won New Zealand's first boxing gold medal at the Games in 24 years, and seeing the sheer happiness that engulfed Zane Robertson when he won bronze in the 5000m was a privilege.

He and his brother Jake, who suffered the misfortune of being tripped in the race, have based themselves in Kenya deciding the way to compete with the best in middle distance running was to train with the best and Zane finally has some hardware to show for all the hard work.

And the disappointments; triathlon's halcyon days are well and truly over - with no-one filling the shoes of the likes of Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty there were no medals.

Andrea Hewitt was the major medal hope along with the mixed team relay but they failed to deliver and their future funding from High Performance Sport NZ will come under the spotlight.

Swimming's overall performance was disappointing too relying on Sophie Pascoe's two gold and Lauren Boyle's gold and silver medals. Their funding too is now seriously in question.

And the team sports will come away disappointed.

The Rugby Sevens couldn't maintain their perfect run at the Games, unable to win a fifth straight gold while the Silver Ferns, who were chasing a hatrick of Games gold, were below par throughout the tournament and humbled by Australia in the final.

The men's and women's hockey teams were both expected to make their respective finals but come away with just one bronze medal and both teams having lost England in penalty shoot outs.

'People Make Glasgow' as the slogan said.

'People Make Glasgow' as the slogan said. Photo: RNZ

The Commonwealth Games aren't the Olympics, and they don't pretend to be. Their relevance is often questioned, but they serve a purpose.

Some of the fields are world class and while many aren't, it gives New Zealand athletes a chance to experience international competition they might otherwise and helps them try to acclimatise to an Olympic environment.

Sure, Usain Bolt didn't race the 100m, and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farrah was a no show due to illness, and they did take some gloss off the event. But Bolt put himself out and about at various events and the locals no doubt now see him as an honorary Glaswegian.

"People make Glasgow," is the city's mantra and, aye, the people have made Glasgow, helped along of course by a wee dram, Irn Bru and Tunnock's teacakes!

The city's mantra for the Games.

The city's mantra for the Games. Photo: RNZ