Sunday, October 3, 2010

A royal visit and grand preparations

There are no nerves at the Games Village, at least not yet. Hours before the opening of the XIX Commonwealth Games, the athletes are going through their early morning practice and getting tips from their coaches. The cyclists are sweating it out under the sun, while the swimmers are already in the pool. This is for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games that a training area has been set up within the Village premises for athletics, aquatics, weightlifting, para sport and wrestling.

“I am confident, we will get many medals at this Games,” says Indian athlete Joseph Abraham who will be participating in the 400-metre hurdles. The Indian male athletes have other things on their mind too, like the ‘sherwanis’ they will be wearing at opening ceremony later in the evening. “Our sherwanis have come. I don’t know how I will look, it should be good,” chips in Vinod, another athlete.

Others are busy checking mail and getting other work done before it gets busy for the opening ceremony. Many rush in to catch a quick bite for breakfast. The South Indian stall is the busiest, with idli undoubtedly the most popular item.

The cleaning staff and security personnel are meanwhile on an overdrive, with Prince Charles expected to visit the Village anytime. Excitement hits a high note as Prince Charles and wife Camilla Parker Bowles drop in and start interacting with the participants. The Earl of Wessex Prince Edward also accompanied Charles, who is representing Queen Elizabeth II at the Games opening ceremony.

“I am really inspired after getting to talk to him. He asked me about my event, my preparations and about the facilities here. I said the facilities are really fantastic,” says Ramone McKenze of Jamaica. “We told them that we are having a fantastic time here. We are really enjoying it,” adds Jon Rankin of Cayman Islands.

During their two-hour stay, the royal couple also dropped in at the dining area, surprising those present there. Athletes from many countries left their food to interact with him. “He was wishing luck to everyone. He interacted with everyone for long time,” said one of them. Later, Charles also checked the residential arrangements for the athletes.

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