Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Zealand Commonwealth Games athletics squad named

Some of the biggest names in New Zealand sport have been named to the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Team today.

Beijing medallists Nick Willis (1500m) and Valerie Vili (shotput) are confirmed for the October event as is double Commonwealth gold medallist Beatrice Faumuina (discus).

Beijing Olympians Stuart Farquar (javelin), Adrian Blincoe (5000m) and Rebecca Wardell (heptathlon) are in the initial line-up as is Beijing Paralympian Jessica Hamil (F34 shotput).

NZOC Secretary General Barry Maister is delighted to have named the first batch of athletes to the team.

"Athletics is a high profile Commonwealth Sport and we've got a strong team heading to Delhi," he said.

"Legends like John Walker and Peter Snell are born at the Commonwealth Games and I'm excited to see what athletes like Vili and Willis will achieve in Delhi. These household names are joined by younger athletes who have exciting futures ahead of them and the Commonwealth Games are where it all begins."

High-jumping teen Liz Lamb is one such young athlete and is heading for her first Commonwealth Games.

At just eighteen years of age, Lamb will aim to beat her personal best of 1.85m and gain valuable experience in the international multi-sport environment before setting her sights on the London Olympic Games in 2012.

High Performance Director, Kevin Ankram, has similar hopes for other athletics newcomers including Brent Newdick, Nikki Hamblin and Monique Williams.

"I am hopeful that our up-and-coming athletes can continue to improve and use Delhi as an opportunity to fine tune their skills at a championship event," he said.

Athletics is traditionally a strong sport for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games and since 1930 New Zealand has won 117 Commonwealth medals.

New Zealand athletes must demonstrate they are capable of finishing within the top six at the Commonwealth Games to meet New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria for Delhi.

The athletes named today are in the first round of selections for athletics with additional nominations expected at the end of July.

Kimberly Smith (marathon) has met the selection criteria however she will confirm her attendance at a later date and has the support of Athletics New Zealand and the New Zealand Olympic Committee in this decision.

The team named today is: Valerie Vili: Shot Put (Auckland), Nick Willis: 1500m (Ann Arbor, MI, USA, Adrian Blincoe: 5000m (Philadelphia, PA, USA), Brent Newdick: Decathlon (Auckland), Nikki Hamblin: 800m/1500m (Cambridge), Andrea Miller: 100mH (Gold Coast, Australia, Beatrice Faumuina: Discus (Auckland), Elizabeth Lamb: High Jump (Auckland), Monique Williams: 200m (Tokoroa), Rebecca Wardell: Heptathlon (Christchurch), Stuart Farquhar Javelin (Hamilton), Jessica Hamill F34 shotput (Invercargill)

No tariff hike before CWG, hints govt

After a month of a public argument between the government and the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), the former on Thursday indicated that any change in tariff will have to wait till the curtains fall on the Commonwealth Games.

The DERC was in the process of reducing the tariff in May, when the government stepped in at the eleventh hour and asked the regulator to review representations made by discoms which argued that unless a hike in tariff was bought in, the entire business of supplying power would become unsustainable.

On Thursday, a senior government official said, “There is no chance of a power tariff hike till October. There are many intricacies involved in it and the government does not want to get into it right now.”

After the discoms and the DERC publicly traded charges and allegations, the opposition BJP stepped into the scene and asked the Chief Minister to clarify her stand on the issue. They also demanded that the government bring in a 20 per cent reduction in power tariff, keeping in mind the “profits” generated by the distribution companies.

In response to the BJP’s demand, the CM — who also holds the power portfolio — issued a detailed statement on Wednesday highlighting the urgent need to hike tariff. Arguing that the prestige of the city and its ability to hold the Commonwealth Games depended on the power companies being in a position to buy power, the CM said the regulator should look into the grievances listed out by the discoms.

“In order to revise tariff, the DERC will have to repeat all procedural requirements, including the public hearings. This whole process is likely to take a good six months or so, and hence the question of tariff changing before October just does not arise,” said a senior government official.

Sources at the DERC agreed that the power tariff is unlikely to be announced till October, but their reasons were slightly different from those of the government. “DERC chairman Berjinder Singh, who is the sole voice against a hike in tariff in the three-member deciding committee of the panel is due to retire in September. The task of appointing a new chairman will then fall on the Delhi government. Since the current chairman is unlikely to allow a hike, the government has no choice but to wait till October to announce a tariff hike,” a senior official alleged.

Who's stealing Delhi's flowers and tiles?

Someone is stealing the bloom from Delhi's beautification plans for the Commonwealth Games. Reports of theft of expensive ornamental plants, tiles and streetlights have prompted the government to appeal to the people "not to steal these things".

The Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government, engaged in projects for the upgradation and beautification of the city for the mega event in October, is grappling with the disappearance of articles used in plantation, street-scaping and streetlight works.

"The fear of theft is there, especially where costly tiles and flowers are being put up to beautify the city. We appeal to people not to steal these things as these are meant for them and the city," PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chouhan told IANS.

It comes at a time when the city government led by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit is already worried over the delay of Games-related projects by the PWD, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and other civic agencies.

Even as police refuse to comment, the state government has received reports of theft of costly plants and tiles for the purpose of street-scaping along busy roads like Africa Avenue, August Kranti Marg and Siri Fort Road, an official said.

There have also been some instances of theft of streetlights put up on major city roads ahead of the Oct 3-14 Games.

While streetlight work is being done at a stretch of 471 km, the central verges and horticulture development is continuing on 275 km-long city roads.

The focus is also on the beautification of flyovers through in-house artists and consultants. Under the plan, the city government is buying costly plants and international standard tiles for nearly 40 flyovers, including at Naraina, Azadpur and Ring Road.

"We have bought some beautiful flowers, plants and tiles for decorating
city roads. Some of the plants even cost Rs.2,500 per article while others are even costlier. A few flowers have been brought from foreign countries. The PWD will plant nearly 25 lakh (2.5 million) trees in the city," Chouhan said.

The government is also engaged in the completion of specially-designed 66 foot overbridges with crores of rupees spent on them.

"The contractors engaged in infrastructure-related works have been asked to protect these items from theft. They have also been asked to secure it at least till the Commonwealth Games, after which we will take a call on the issue," Chouhan said.

At the under-construction Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, a special variety of flowers and plants brought from Thailand and Saudi Arabia are also being used.

The civic agencies in the capital like PWD and MCD have been asked by the centre to arrange as many as six million ornamental plants for beautification purpose of Delhi, including Games sites.

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