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'English athletes view Delhi Games as preparation for 2012 Olympics'

March 18, 2010 20:18 IST

England are planning to send a huge contingent of more than 500 athletes for the October New Delhi Commonwealth Games, and Australia too are determined to come full strength.

According to a report on the Commonwealth Games England website, a team of 560, more than the squad for the 2006 Melbourne Games, will compete in the upcoming edition.

England Chef de Mission Craig Hunter said their athletes want to use the Games platform for Olympic preparations.

"England will categorically be sending a team to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later this year. There's no doubt that there are lots of athletes who see Delhi as a vital developmental stepping stone towards the 2012 Olympics in London and they are very keen to be in the team," Hunter said.

"Let's wait and see who decides to go and who doesn't when the time comes," Hunter added.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association Chief Executive Perry Crosswhite, dismissing all security fears, said his team was even more "bullish" on taking part in the Delhi event.

The successful running of the hockey World Cup along with trouble-free test events in shooting and archery has bolstered confidence that organisers have security under control.

"We are even more bullish on it than we have been before. All that has gone well and the security, although there was some question about it early in those events, has been fixed up pretty quickly. There haven't been any incidents so it's been good," Crosswhite was quoted as saying by The Age.

With the Games less then 200 days away, Crosswhite said Australia's athletes had been kept well informed about the measures being put in place to protect them.

"No one has expressed to us that he or she is not going. Everybody has got to make their own mind up but I'd be disappointed if someone didn't go.

"I think the main thing, is that Australian athletes are just really competitive. They are more so than other nations and as far as they are concerned the Commonwealth Games is really important to them and they are not afraid. Threat or no threat, they are going to go," he said.

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