The Weekend Leader - Incredible India

Initial hiccups notwithstanding, foreign athletes are happy with arrangements

Andrew Buncombe   |   New Delhi


Vol 1 | Issue 6

In the weeks before the Commonwealth Games, there were plenty of reasons that might have tempted Sian Gordon and other athletes to consider pulling out of the competition: there were worries about security, reports about bad hygiene and concerns that facilities would not be ready on time. Trying to reassure friends and relatives that things would be fine, was an additional problem.

As it is, she has no regrets about having come to Delhi and has thrown herself into the event. Given that her sport, lawn bowls, is not included in the Olympics, it can get no better than the Commonwealth Games. “This is the pinnacle,” she said one recent morning at the athletes’ village.

It is not as if there were not some initial problems. When Gordon and her team mates arrived in Delhi, their accommodation at the athletes’ village was still not ready and needed extra cleaning. Some of the team’s officials had to personally get involved in the cleaning process. But by the end of the day, the rooms were in order.

“People here were very gracious and accommodating. They try to help,” said the 22-year from Kent, who is a member of the England women’s triples bowls team. “Once you find the right channel of communication, nothing is a problem.”

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Like the majority of athletes and officials, Gordon, an English literature graduate from Whitstable, Kent, was highly impressed by the standards in the cafeteria in the athletes’ village, which serves food from around the world. She had laughed as she watched Western athletes line up to be served Indian and Asian food, while the Indian athletes had largely preferred to try Western and Continental cuisine.

She had also enjoyed the atmosphere in the games village once the athletes arrived. Once the organising committee staff ensured the “final touches” were completed, she said, “the atmosphere definitely improved”. She and her team mates were also delighted to be able to take part in the spectacular opening ceremony, watched by 60,000 cheering spectators in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and millions around the world.

Her trip was made slightly easier by the fact that this is not her first time in India; she came in April for a run-out at the bowls’ venue and returned now to discover that the facilities there have improved. In practice sessions, she has also learned that the Indian bowls’ squad has been honing its skills.

Perhaps the best indication of Gordon’s peace of mind, both with the facilities and her preparation, was that her triples’ team got off the way they wanted this week, beating the bowlers from Norfolk Island.

After the match she said: “That was a good start.”

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