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Thumbs-up all around as C'wealth Games set to kick-off

Last updated on: October 3, 2010 16:47 IST

Image: Members from the Canadian team pose at a water fountain at the Game Village
Photographs: Reuters

"Fantastic" and "really good" -- this is how most of the athletes described their stay at the Commonwealth Games Village to Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles when the royal couple visited the sprawling complex on Sunday.

"We told him that the facilities here are really fantastic and that we are enjoying our stay to the fullest," said wrestler Zoe Smith of Britain.

Britain was among few countries which was severely critical of the condition at the Games Village, dubbed earlier as "filthy" and "unlivable".

Wheel-chair bound Taniel Davis of Wales, who will participate in the seated shot put competition, during his brief interaction with the royal couple also shared his "warm" experience.

"He asked about many things including about the facilities. We told him that the facilities here are really good. I am enjoying every moment of my stay here," he said.

'All the facilities are really fabulous'

Image: A gymnast practises on the balance beam during a training session inside the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex in New Delhi

Davis's teammate Anthony Huges echoed a similar view and said the media had portrayed a very different picture of the Village.

"We told Charles that the Village is really fabulous."

According to Trinidad and Tobago's woman triple jumper Ayana Alexandra, the facilities provided at the Delhi Games are the best she has received so far among all international events she has participated in.

"All the facilities are really fabulous. We told the Prince that we like the Village," she said.

The Village also received rave reviews from other athletes from Trinidad and Tobago. Edwin Skinner, the 400m sprinter, who has the experience of participating in many other previous Games, told the Prince that the "facilities are absolutely fantastic."

First ever training area for athletes set up

Image: A member of the Scottish team browses through artifacts inside a handicraft shop at the Games Village

The Village is spread in an area of 63.5 hectares and has all basic facilities like postal services, bank, ATMs, discotheque, bar, cafeterias, handicraft shops, gym and shops selling wooden sculptures among others.

Currently over 6,000 athletes from 71 countries are staying in the Village.

For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, a training area for the athletes has been set up within the Village premises. Athletes are able to train in four sports -- athletics, aquatics, weightlifting, para sport and wrestling.

Vijender meets the Prince

Image: Vijender (right) with fellow-boxer Jai Bhagwan at the Commonwealth Games Village in Delhi

A routine training session turned out to be a memorable one for World No 1 boxer, India's Vijender Singh when Prince Charles walked upto him for a tete-a-tete at the Commonwealth Games Village on Sunday.

With just a couple of days left for the boxing competition to commence at the Commonwealth Games, Vijender was slogging it out at the training facilities at the Games Village.

He was going through the paces under the watchful eyes of national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu when he had a surprise visitor in Prince Charles.

"I was pleasantly surprised when he came to see us during train. I was formally introduced to him and he started praising the performance of the Indian boxers in the past couple of years," the Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist said.

"We were sweating it out and he looked a bit uneasy due to the heat. He also met our coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu and asked him about Indian boxing," added the 24-year-old, who was part of the Indian contingent which received the Queen's baton from the Buckingham Palace last year.

"I spoke to him briefly but it was a memorable experience."

Games Village leaves Kiwis 'pleasantly surprised'

Image: Members from New Zealand's team walk inside the Games Village

New Zealand's Commonwealth Games contingent has been left "pleasantly surprised" by the good facilities at the Athletes' Village as they had read a lot of negative reports about the residential block's cleanliness.

New Zealand's netball player and flag-bearer Irene Van Dyk described India as very beautiful country.

"India is absolutely beautiful. The media has made it out to be so bad. But honestly we have had the most amazing time here. The venues are brilliant and we are very happy," Van Dyk said.

New Zealand's cycling coach Tim Carswell also said that the Games Village looks good and he hoped that the Games would be very successful.

"The Village really looks good. The security has been beefed up and the conditions also look good. The food is good," the coach said.

Terming the track in Delhi as one of the best, world pursuit silver medallist Jesse Sergent said, "The track looks fast. It will be good for the competition. This is my first time at the CWG."

Asked if he has met his Indian counterparts, Sergent said, "No, I have not. But I have seen them during practice. They seem to have some new bikes. They look good."

'All our concerns have been put to rest'

Image: New Zealand's synchronized swimmers at a training session in New Delhi

Former 2009 world champion in the women's individual pursuit Alison Shanks said the intense security vigil around the team has put all their concerns to rest.

"We are now satisfied with the security. Whatever concerns we had, have been put to rest," said Shanks.

The rising star of New Zealand's sprint team, Eddie Dawkins said he never had much concerns for security. "Look, I am a pretty easy-going guy. I never had much concerns about the security," he said.

"It was not about the security as such. It was more about whether it is going to be comfortable for the athletes to stay on," Van Dyk said.

"I think the main concern was when the bridge fell over and security wise, we didn't have doubts because our Chef de Mission said right from the beginning that there are people everywhere looking out for athletes," she added.

The New Zealand team said no matter how many athletes withdraw, the Delhi Games will be very tough and competitive.

"The Australians will be our biggest competition especially in track cycling," the coach said.

Australians express satisfaction

Image: Australian team members stand for the national anthem during the team's flag-raising ceremony at the Commonwealth Games Village in Delhi

Excited over the Commonwealth Games, Team Australia on Sunday gave its approval to the Games as well as to the preparation for the opening ceremony.

"We are looking forward to the opening ceremony. At the moment we have got 254 people marching, including officials. We have 17 people who are not marching," Australia's Chef de Mission, Steve Moneghetti said.

"It is about the athletes today. Despite all infrastructure and all those concerns, today is the celebration. Today is the Commonwealth Games Opening ceremony in Delhi. It is happening. It is exciting," an excited Moneghetti said.

Australian cricket team is also playing a Test series in India in Chandigarh. When asked whether Ponting's men have left any message for the CWG team, Australia's Chef de Mission said no formal message has come through.

"No. I think they are busy with other things. They were in the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998 and they enjoyed the experience. I know if we don't get a formal message, they will be thinking of us. I think he (Ponting) will be positive in his comments about the Games in Kuala Lumpur."

'We are focusing only on the competition'

Image: Australian team members watch the team's flag-raising ceremony at the Commonwealth Games Village in Delhi

"The team is also planning to organise a trip to all the popular spots in an around the city. We have an organised tour to take the team to see Taj Mahal and athletes would like the opportunity. We are likely to organise the trip in a couple of days," said Moneghetti.

Talking about the famous Akshardham temple, Moneghetti said, "We are also looking at a fascinating temple at the back of the village. We have asked some locals about that and apparently that is a fantastic place to tour."

However, Athlete Liaison Officer Petria Thomas makes it clear that it is totally competition now.

"But now it is the competition we are focusing on. Those athletes and officials who are staying for the rest of the Games, they will have time left for most of the other activities," said Thomas.

Team Australia looked to be as strong as ever. With the aim of achieving 200-plus medals, it seems the Australian contingent is finally ready to start the Games at a high note.

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