Sunday, September 26, 2010

English athletes keen for Games

English track and field athletes are still looking forward to the Commonwealth Games despite reports criticising the venue's cleanliness, security and construction.

“I will just be happy with a nice crowd, a nice atmosphere when I go compete,” English high jumper Martyn Bernard said on Sunday at a training camp in Doha.

Bernard, who won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, said events were out of his control

“You go to so many events around the world and you just cross your fingers and worry about the things you can control rather than about things you can't control,” Bernard said.

The Games open on October 3 in New Delhi and England said on Sunday that 48 members of its team will move into accommodation at the athletes' village on Monday.

Mark Lewis-Francis, who anchored Team GB to 4x100 gold at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, is looking forward to his first trip to India.

“For me, the most important thing is the track, a roof and a bed,” the 28-year-old athlete said. “I think Delhi will put on a good show. I am hearing good things about Delhi.”

Two more Australian athletes withdrew on Sunday and a South African competitor reportedly found a snake in his room as complaints continued to dog the Games.

However, English sprinter Laura Turner said: “I have been training well and I am looking forward to the Games. I am not worried about anything at all.”

Former English sprinter Linford Christie, who won the 100 at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, was also positive.

“We don't read newspapers,” Christie said when asked if he was paying attention to reports criticising India's preparation. “As an athlete you just want to go out and perform. You have this kind of problem every time before a major championship. It's nothing new.”

However, Christie said some areas were not negotiable.

“What I am worried about is rest and food,” Christie said. “You don't want to compromise on these things.”

More than 100 British athletes have been preparing at Aspire Academy in Dubai.

The multi-sport games, held every four years, bring together nearly 7 000 athletes and officials from 71 countries and territories from across the former British empire. The games were meant to be a coming-out party for India to cement its reputation as a growing regional power. Instead, its image has been battered by negative publicity about its frantic last-minute efforts to get ready for an event it knew it was hosting seven years ago.

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