Monday, September 27, 2010

As long as there is a good track and roof above, say England athletes

A lot of negative stuff has been written about the Delhi Commonwealth Games. But are the athletes themselves concerned and therefore going to India with a great deal of apprehension?

Not quite. The England athletics squad training in Doha, are in fact, quite enthusiastic. “For me, as long as there is a good track, a roof above and a bed, I’m happy and I’m good to go,” said Athens Olympics 4x100m sprint gold medalist Mark Lewis Francis after conducting a clinic for kids at the Aspire Academy.

“The way we have to look at it is, we are athletes training hard all through the season for this. I’m excited; I have never been to that part of the world before. I’ve heard good things about Delhi and I’m confident that rest of the things will definitely fall into place,” added Francis, who has gone without a medal at the Commonwealth Games in two previous attempts.

“I’ve done two Commonwealth Games before, Manchester and Melbourne. In Manchester, I made the finals, pulled the hamstring. In Melbourne, we got disqualified in the 100 metres and in the relay we dropped the baton. Hopefully, this time I would be third time lucky. I’m in a good shape. I won a silver medal in the European Championship in Barcelona this year,” said Francis, who said he is also not afraid to venture out on the streets of Delhi to explore its rich history.

“I’ve never been to India but this is my second visit to Doha. I’ll leave from here on Oct 3 and then I have two days to get my mind right before I compete on the 6th. Then I have one week off before my next event.

Hopefully, once that job at hand is done, I’ll definitely venture out. I’m not the guy, who will sit in the room and look at the four walls,” says Francis adding that the controversial withdrawal of some of his teammates had nothing to do with the security concerns.

“The athletes who have withdrawn are injured. There is no other reason. What I see is for all the remaining athletes, this Games serves as a great opportunity to go out and perform. And for me, I’ve not won a medal at the Commonwealth Games and that’s what matters the most than anything else. I’ve still got speed in my legs and I’m sure I can go and produce in Delhi,” says Francis, who has clocked 10.12 sec in Newcastle at the Great North Run earlier this year.

Francis’ coach and Olympic gold medalist Linford Christie, too, was confident about the Games. “The best thing to do is not to read newspapers at all when you are preparing for such major events. Your job is to go and compete.
You have this sort of a problem before every major tournament and it is nothing new for us. England medal hope in the women’s sprint Laura Turner is keen to erase the memories of a fourth place finish at the Melbourne Games.

“I’m not at all paying attention to what is going around. They still have a week to get everything absolutely so I’m not bothered about things. Beijing also had security concerns and stuff. But everything went fine. I would definitely like to look around Delhi,” said Turner.

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