Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kipsiro relishes golden race

Uganda's Moses Kipsiro took the first athletics gold of the Commonwealth Games after workers triumphed in their own desperate race to repair the track and get the infield ready at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Wednesday's other big winner was Leisel Jones who grabbed her eighth career Commonwealth Games gold on as six titles in the pool kept Australia clear of hosts India at the top of the medal table on the third day of competition in Delhi.

India's sharpshooters, wrestlers and weightlifters gave the host nation six golds on day three, Gagan Narang and Anisa Sayyid both collecting their second of the Games on the shooting range and an African swimmer won a rare major competition gold for the continent in the pool.

Problems, though, continued to dog organisers but the first evening of the athletics got under way on schedule, albeit in front of a sparse crowd, after an army of workers toiled night and day at the stadium to fix damage caused during Sunday's opening ceremony.

“There was some damage to the athletics track and the in-field was in very poor condition and some general cleaning-up (had) to be done and the workers responded to this overnight,” said Michael Fennell, head of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Three hours before the eight-day athletics competition began an army of workers was still struggling to prepare the shot put ring, erect the net around the hammer ring, put up hoardings, and assemble the medal podiums.

One group were shovelling buckets of thick mud out of the steeplechase water jump and using a cycle-wheelbarrow contraption to ferry it away.

Kipsiro outsprinted Kenyan former world champion Eliud Kipchoge over the last lap to win the 5 000m on the track but the day belonged to the green and gold clad swimmers of Australia.

Jones led a podium sweep for her country in the 200m breaststroke to become the 10th most successful athlete in Games history, just two medals short of fellow Australian swimmers Ian Thorpe and Susie O'Neill who share the biggest career hauls.

The three-times Olympic champion was pushed all the way by 17-year-old Tessa Wallace but stormed home to win by 0.22 seconds.

“It was a very tough race. To get away with a win here is great,” Jones, 25, said.

Emily Seebohm, who is competing in eight events in Delhi, got her first gold in the 100 backstroke after finishing second behind compatriot Alicia Coutts in the 100 freestyle, while Matthew Cowdrey won the men's 50 freestyle for para-athletes.

Wins in the relays combined with three golds on the cycling track and three in gymnastics contributed to Australia's total tally of 21.

India are second with 11 golds, England third with six while Malaysia and South Africa share fourth with three.

While Kenyans were expected to be among the medal contenders of an athletics competition missing big names like sprinters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, they were not expected to take any in the pool.

Jason Dunford bucked those expectations with his victory in the men's 50 metres butterfly, his country's first Commonwealth Games swimming medal.

“There are a lot of Kenyans in the crowd tonight and to hear the anthem, it's amazing,” he said. - Reuters

Games a let down for hospitality

The Commonwealth Games have been an absolute let down for the hospitality industry. Anticipating a great rush during the Games, the hospitality industry  in Jaipur, had geared up to host about a lakh of tourists from Delhi. But despite the onset of the tourist season, there are no takers even for hotel rooms that are offering almost 30% discount on printed tariff.

So while the safaris at the Ranthambhore National Park are already sold out even before the park opens, the hotels there are crying for tourists. "Most hotels are empty—- but the jeeps for the safari are sold out," said a Ranthambhore Association of Hotel Owners source. Travel agents had expected a great rush and gone for block bookings in advance expecting to sell them at a higher price later.

"There is a reverse trend with this time. We have received 40 to 50% more bookings over the last year, at this time, for overseas destinations. With Delhi almost sealed, the hot selling travel destination is the Andamans," said Sabina Chopra of Yatra, a travel portal.

The seven-day package to the Andamans, with a specially hired plane for Rs 32,000 (all inclusive), has clearly taken precedence over Rajasthan for the travellers. "Besides in India, Goa is totally sold out from the 1-15 October," said Sabina. As a result, tourism has taken a severe lash in Rajasthan, with no takers, despite the season. The initial hype created around the CWG had a lot of groups buying up new properties or add rooms to the existing properties, just in time for the CWG traffic.

According to sources, to cater to the CWG traffic, an additional inventory of almost 750 additional rooms was created across segments from budget to ultra luxury. Besides, for the first time two prominent national tour operators, Le Passage to India and Sita Kuoni went ahead to expand their visibility in the state.

"The company has extended its operations beyond Jaipur in Rajasthan with the opening of four new offices in Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner the 'high footprint' cities," said Khalid Khan, executive director LPTI.

"But we can relax till mid-month as tourism has really taken a blow with the CWG. But just after the Games finish, we have a packed season," he said.

Similarly, after a span of five years, Sita Kuoni has once again started operations in Jaipur. "After winding operations from Jaipur in 2005, we have once again decided to establish our own base in the city, said Sanjay Sharma general manager Kuoni Rajasthan after inaugurating the office just before the CWG began.

Kenya: Country's 'Golden Moment'

Kenya yesterday launched its medal hunt at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi with the first gold coming from the unlikeliest of sources.

Jason Dunford's victory in the 50-metre butterfly final marked Kenya's first ever swimming gold medal at games of such magnitude, and buried the myth that it's only in track events that Kenya's hopes for gold lie.

Jason's victory follows years of dedication, sacrifice and personal investment without the all-too-familiar cry that the government should help the "smaller" sports grow.

That we can dig gold from the pool is proof that with more focus, Kenya can rake in medals from sporting disciplines we traditionally ignore.

Credit must go to the government and the National Olympic Committee for casting the net wider and sending a big delegation to Delhi, fielding teams in such diverse sports as archery, table tennis, badminton, cycling, squash and lawn bowling.

As we celebrate Jason's landmark gold, we hope Kenya can build on such performances to set a solid base for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Hockey men thrashed 9-0 by rampant Australians

There is a gap of 23 places in the world rankings between Scotland and Australia and it was all too evident as the tournament favourites crushed Russell Garcia's men 9-0 at the Commonwealth Games in the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi.

The contest was effectively over by half time as the Australians cruised into a five-goal lead. The Scots succumbed to Australian pressure in 14 minutes with a penalty corner shot by Luke Doerner.

Two minutes later the Wallabies doubled their lead when Chris Ciriello forced the ball home after a goalmouth scramble. Scotland's first attempt at goal came from a reverse stick shot from Stephen Dick which led to a penalty corner. Mark Ralph, on the occasion of his 150th Scotland cap, saw his drag flick charged down by a defender. Almost immediately Australia scored their third when Rob Hammond sent a fierce reverse shot high past Scots keeper Alistair McGregor. Two further goals followed before the interval, the first from a drag flick from Ciriello and then a deflected shot past McGregor by Trent Mitton.

The second half saw a similar procession of goals from the Aussies as the Scots defence came under almost constant pressure, and the total might have been higher but for some telling saves from McGregor. Towards the end Scotland did have some chances to get a consolation, with the Aussie keeper producing a great double save from Kenny Bain before Niall Stott's penalty corner effort was also blocked by the keeper and then Ross Stott hit the sideboard.

Scotland's women have the chance to progress up their pool table today when they take on bottom side Trinidad. Coach Gordon Shepherd still remains upbeat despite his side losing 2-1 to South Africa in the last game.

"I was disappointed with the first-half showing against South Africa where we didn't get the tactics right, but I was delighted with the second-half performance and I can't praise the girls highly enough. I feel that I'll have no problem lifting the girls for our next game after this setback as this side has now become used to not losing games," said Shepherd.

Sheila Dikshit sings with kids in Games' spirit

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has much reason to cheer with the Commonwealth Games underway without any big glitches. And she didn't hide her joy as she joined 160 underprivileged children in singing songs at the Central Park of Connaught Place here.

Around 160 underprivileged children fascinated the onlookers and shoppers Tuesday evening at the Central Park in the newly renovated Connaught Place by singing and dancing which even the Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit could not resist and joined them.

A youth festival organized by the Delhi government, as part of the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG) celebrations witnessed the participation of the choral group of Deepalaya, an NGO working among urban and rural poor.

"The chief minister joined the kids on the stage and sang 'Teri Hai Zameen' song. Besides this song, the students sang an English song 'We are the Children, we are the world," said a member of the NGO.

After enjoying four performances by the students of Deepalaya, the chief minister said that a fantastic programme was put up and Deepalaya is doing a great job, lastly thanking all the students who participated in the event.

"She even asked the compere to inform the audience that the kids were to perform at the Opening Ceremony of the Games but could not do so because of the health constraints of some students," the member added.

The day also saw other performances such as a giant puppet show, Kuchipudi dance and fusion music by various schools and institutes.

CWG Weightlifting: Ravi Kumar sets new Games record on way to gold

Indias K. Ravi Kumar won the gold in the mens 69 kg weightlifting event at the Commmonwealth Games here Wednesday, setting a new Games record in the process.

He broke the Games record lifting 321 kg (146+175) and surpassed Cameroons Venecelas Dabayas total of 310kg, achieved in the 2002 Manchester Games. It is also a new Commonwealth Championships record.

back to top