Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Indian men win two more bronze in athletics

India today took control of the athletics events by bagging two bronze medals for the hosts in the Javelin men's and the tripple jump finals in the 19th Commonwealth Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here today.

India's Kashinath Naik finished third by throwing the javelin to a distance of 74.29m.

The 29-year-old Indian athlete followed Stuart Farquhar of New Zealand, who scored 78.15m.

The gold was bagged by Jarrod Bannister of Australia, with a score of 81.71m.

In the tripple jump event, India's Renjith Maheswary made a national record by leaping a distance of 17.07m.

The gold was won by Tosin Oke of Nigeria with a score of 17.16m.

Silver medallist in the event, Lucien Mamba Schlick, also made a national record by scoring 17.14m.

Medals rain for India on day 10 of CWG

On a day when medals rained for India at the 19th Commonwealth Games, history was created when Indian athletes won their first medals on the track since the legendary Milkha Singh won gold more than half a century ago.

India, who had publicly declared their target of claiming the second spot on the medals
tally before the start of the Games, moved closer towards their goal with a haul of 32 gold, 25 silver and 32 bronze medals for a total of 89 medals.

With just two days to go before the Games comes to an end on October 14, the hosts are at the second spot among the 71 participating nations, ahead of England who have gathered 30 gold so far.

The English are however, ahead as far as the total number of medals are concerned and they can yet upset India's party over the next couple of days.

The athletes were the toast of the entire country as they bagged medals across several events to break a 52-year-old jinx and upset Milkha Singh's pre-Games prediction that the hosts will return empy handed from the track and field disciplines.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium - the main venue of the Commonwealth Games - was the place to be as the frenzied crowd and loudspeakers blaring out popular Indian tunes gelled together to create an electrifying atmosphere.

The entire stadium swung to the tune of A R Rahman's 'Jai Ho' as India claimed five medals in athletics, including a gold.

Deafening roars and wild cheers from thousands of pectators supported the athletes as they took the Indian medal tally in the athletics events to 12.

After the 52-year-old gold medal drought in athletics was broken by Krishna Poonia who won a gold in the women's discus throw yesterday, the Indian women 4x400m relay team bagged another gold for the hosts.

Indian athletes Manjeet Kaur, Sini Jose, Ashwini Akkunji and Mandeep Kaur finished first as they clocked 3:27.77s to claim the gold.

India's Geetha Satti, Srabani Nanda, Priya P K and Jyothi Manjunath clocked 45.25s to stand at the third position in 4x100m women's relay.

Complimenting their female counterparts, India's Rahamatulla Molla, Suresh Sathya, Shameer Mon Manzile and Md Abdul Qureshi clocked 38.89s to win another bronze for the hosts in the 4x100m men's relay.

In the men's triple jump finals, India's Renjith Maheswary stood third to bag a bronze with a jump of 17.07m. The effort also fetched him a national record.

The fourth bronze of the day for India came from Kashinath Naik in the men's javelin throw.

He threw the javelin to a distance of 74.29m to stand at the third position.

Vikas Shive Gowda and Prajusha Maliakkal won silver in men's discus throw and women long jump respectively. Yesterday, Harminder Singh and Kavita Raut had bagged bronze medal each in 20km walk race and 10,000m women's race respectively.

In shooting, on a day of mixed fortunes for India, Heena Sidhu and Anu Raj Singh struck gold in women's 10m air pistol Pairs event but favourites Gagan Narang and Tejaswini Sawant failed to bag the expected yellow medals.

Women's pistol pair of Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh were lucky winner as they had better scores in the third and fourth series as count-back was necessitated to break the three-way deadlock for the gold, silver and bronze medals.

Heena fired a series of 96, 94, 97, 97 for a total of 384 while Annu shot 92, 95, 95, 93 as the two posted 759 with 21 'bulls eyes'.

Australia and Canada were also on 759, but Canada had to settle for bronze having scored 14 bulls eyes. But Australia had the same number of 10s as India and only in the count-back did India win the gold medal.

Melbourne Commonwealth Games' best athlete, Samresh Jung won his first medal of Delhi CWG when he and his partner CK Chaudhary took the silver medal in the men's 25 standard fire pistol.

Jung shot 384 with a series of 195, 183, 183, but Chaudhary misfired forcing India to settle for the silver. Singapore won the gold with Bin Gai and Lip Meng Poh scoring a total of 1116 against the total of 1103.

The Indian hockey team added the cherry on the cake when they defeated England 8-7 via tie-breaker to set up a title clash with Australia in the men's hockey competition.

Indians who trailed 1-3 till the 57th minute, cameback so strongly that Englishmen were left clueless and wondeing what hit them as the hosts drew level at 3-3 by the 59th minute.

As the teams failed to score anymore in the remaining regulation period, 15 minutes of extra time was played, which also failed to break the deadlock leading to the tie breaker.

The hosts converted all their five strokes and then goalkeeper Bharat Chetri emerged most unlikely hero as he blocked Australia's third stroke taken by Glenn Kirkham and paved way for India to move into the final of this competition for the first time.

For India, who were levelled 1-1 at halftime, the goal scorers were Sarvanjit Singh (two) and Vikram Pillay (one).

For England, Ashley Jackson (2) and Simon Mantell (one) scored.

In the tie breaker, Sarvanjit, Vikram Pillay, Sandeep Singh, Arjun Halappa and Shivender singh converted their strokes for the host.

For England, Richard Smith, Richard Mantell, Ashley Jackson, Simon Mantell converted while Glenn Kirkham failed to beat the goalkeeper.

As India stormed into the final leaving the Englishmen crestfallan and in tears, Indian players celebrated the win, backed by thousands of their supporters who danced and partied wildly to the sound of defeaning Bhangra music.

Meanwhile, keeping alive Indian hopes of winning a medal in table tennis, top paddler Sarath Kamal annihilated Liang Ma of Singapore to reach semifinals of the mens singles, at the Yamuna Sports Complex.

Soumyadeep Roy also kept the tri-colour fluttering as he crushed top seed Cia Xiao Li of Singapore to enter the men's singles semifinals.

Among the women paddlers, Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak also reached the last four stage.

Delhi Review Will Be Basis for the 2012 Olympics

AN evaluation of Uganda's performance at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games will provide basis of the country's preparations for the 2012 London Olympics, James Bakama reports.

"We have to seriously study what went wrong and find remedies," said education and sports state minister Charles Bakkabulindi.

Bakkabulindi was responding to reports of lack of allowances and equipment in the Ugandan camp in New Delhi. There were also complaints of team officials' relatives taking up athletes' places.

Bakkabulindi conceded that there was a delay in payment of allowances but he attributed it to bureaucracy in India's banking system. He explained that team funds amounting to about $100,000 were wired to the account of Uganda's embassy.

"Accessing the money from India was not easy. They even wanted to give it to us in Indian rupees but we refused," he said, however adding that by the time he left every Ugandan had been paid.

He accepted that cyclists delayed to get their bicycles but insisted that other requirements like the kit were not in shortage. "If there was a problem, it was merely in sizes but not availability of a kit."

He described the trip as a big success for Uganda. Besides Moses Kipsiro's two gold medals, Uganda also won bids to host the Commonwealth parliamentarians meeting and the Games federation general assembly.

Heena, Annu trigger happy - Gagan Narang’s hope of fifth win shattered

Rifleman Gagan Narang’s hopes of bagging six gold medals in the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games remained unfulfilled, when he failed to win the 50metre pairs event on Wednesday.

Though the day began on a bright note for the hosts, at the Karni Singh range, with Heena Sidhu, Annu Raj Singh winning the record 31st gold medal for India in the 10m air pistol pairs event, the defeat of Narang and Samresh Jung in their respective pairs events dampened the spirit.

In the women’s 50metre prone event, Scotland’s Jen McIntosh won the gold with a Games record of 597. Tejaswini Sawant, the world champion in this event, got the silver with a score of 594 and Welsh’s Johanne Brekke settled for the bronze with 593 points.

“My personal best is 597 and I was competing against it and still fell short by three points. So, I am disappointed. If I had a bit more patience, I think I could have easily won the gold,” said Tejaswini.

“I was warned about the strong winds. After the third series, I became a bit over-conscious. Normally, I don’t attach much importance to the wind. But today (Tuesday), I don’t know why I was thinking so much about it ...my coaches also told me not to bother much about it,” she said.

In the men’s 25metre standard pistol, Jung (561) and C.K.Chaudhary (542) won the silver with a score of 1103.

However, with four more finals to be decided on the last day of the competition on Wednesday, India, with 14 gold medals in shooting, have an outside chance of taking their tally of yellow metals to beyond 16, a figure that they achieved in the Manchester Games, four years ago.

Tuesday’s results also ended Narang’s chance of overcoming “goldfinger” Samresh Jung’s mark of five gold medals in Melbourne. Narang, who has four gold, can still match the pistol hero if he manages to win the 50m prone individual event.

In the women’s 10metre air pistol, India, Australia and Canada were tied for the gold with 759 points. Canada got the bronze on the basis of lesser number of perfect 10s. They shot 14, while India and Australia had 21 each. India bagged the gold on the basis of count-back.

Heena (384) and Annu (375) clinched the 14th gold medal from the shooting range. The silver went to Australian shooters Dina Aspandiyarova (384) and Pamela McKenzie (375) and Canadian duo Dorothy Ludwig (380) and Lynda Hare (379) settled for the bronze.

Rebecca Adlington: 'In India I just felt selfish. I'll never moan again'

Sometimes, the most balanced personality can be a split one. As Rebecca Adlington acknowledges, most of her young life has been spent in "a bubble" – a numbing, obsessive schedule of training that reduces every different pool, Doha or Delhi, to the same, daily ducking-stool test of endurance and belief as the one where it all began, back in Mansfield. And yet, within these cramped horizons, she has discovered, or preserved, a sense of perspective somehow uncompromised by an almost pathological determination to swim faster than anyone else.

These twin strengths enable Adlington to reflect on an exotic experience at the Commonwealth Games with an equanimity that appears to have eluded many others. Yes, it doubtless helps that she won two gold medals to match the pair she won at the Beijing Olympics, when aged just 19, again at 400 metres and 800m.

Now, of course, all lanes lead to London 2012, and she paid an immediate visit to the half-built Aquatic Centre on her return from India. Judging from some of the reports out of Delhi, you almost expected her to rate this sprawling building site as already a superior facility. For Adlington, however, the bellyache she shared with so many other athletes in Delhi was only a noun – emphatically not a verb. Having peered beyond the bubble, she has come back refreshed in humility as well as pride.

"We had a 40-minute bus journey every day to the pool, and I couldn't believe it," she said. "If you see someone homeless here, it just makes you feel lucky. But in India I just felt selfish. I've never seen anything like it, it just shocked me. I thought: 'Oh my God, I'm never going to moan ever again.' Every time the bus passed down the street it would make your heart stop. It was a massive eye-opener for every single person on the bus. Someone mentioned the stomach stuff. And I was like: 'Seriously! You've got a bit of belly issues... just look out of the window.' As soon as you saw that, I think everyone just got on with it."

Back in the bubble, though – surely that was another matter? How can an elite athlete, trained for a peak, fail to be physically or mentally debilitated by sickness? "Oh, there were a lot of people worse off than myself," Adlington said. "Without going into too much detail, no matter what you ate, you were going to the toilet 10 minutes later. So it was just a case of trying not to aggravate it, while trying to actually refuel. I was living off Imodium, and the team doctor was brilliant. It must have been the hardest week of his life. But we all expected to get it, we were all prepared, and it wasn't as if it was just us."

Of course, it is precisely the ability to isolate yourself from extraneous distractions – and they can scarcely be less extraneous – that in turn separates elite athletes from the rest. To Adlington, the pool will always turn whine into water. "No matter what mood I'm in, if I'm angry, I'm upset, you dive in the pool and you just forget about everything," she said. "It's the only place I feel comfortable, the only place I feel myself, where I feel I belong. I'm a bit more of a weirdo when I get out of the pool!

"And in a race most of us are so focused, so up for it, that no matter what else is going on in your life, you just switch off. So I'm not going to let a little belly thing hold me back when I've trained the whole year for this."

Perhaps the ultimate test of this zone will not be adversity, but expectation, when she competes in 2012. "Obviously, for London, we're going to feel pressure," she said. "We're all going to be in the spotlight. At the same time, with everyone cheering for you, you just get involved in the atmosphere. In Rome last year, I raced against [Federica] Pellegrini and even I felt the buzz, though the crowd were cheering for her. No matter what I come away with, a home Olympics is just my absolute dream."

After disappointing herself at the European Championships, Adlington is encouraged that she proved so at home in a quasi-Olympic environment in Delhi – sharing an athletes' village again, and watching other sports. "It was such a positive week," she said. "I've learnt I have the confidence to pick myself up when something hasn't gone right. I just raced my own race, relaxed and enjoyed it like I used to. So I think it's a massive step, for London, and a massive thing also that the year has gone so well for the British – we're definitely becoming a nation to watch in the pool. We walk in, and people notice us. People are scared of us. We're just getting better and better, and when you put in a home crowd as well, God knows what we can achieve."

In Delhi, Adlington again dominated the field from the start – always a strategy instructive of the fires within: "Thou shalt not pass". Where does it come from, this ferocious message to her pursuers? With her cheerful, unpretentious demeanour, Adlington seems immune to egotism. In the pool, however, the mermaid apparently becomes a shark. In a recent conversation with her coach, Bill Furniss, she was affronted when he told her: "Some people just can't handle you." He had to explain that it was intended as a compliment.

"I am the most driven person," she admitted. "I want to make something of my life. I'm so lucky that I love what I do, and I'm not going to waste that. I don't want to look back and regret things. I can be difficult to deal with, because I won't let people stand in my way. Sometimes I'll come across as a bitch, but I don't care – at the end of the day, I want to achieve something. You can clash, if someone is not as driven. I get angry when I see such talented people, not giving everything. I think: 'You've all the talent in the world, you can achieve something so rare, and it's just wasted.' I'm not as naturally talented as some people. I have to work hard every single day. And when I see someone doing well, when they don't work as hard, I do get frustrated, because they could be so amazing."

There it is again – the paradox of this pleasant, everyday young woman from Mansfield. She permits only the quietest hint of her distinction, in the flags of St George painted proudly on her fingernails. Becky Adlington remains scrupulously down-to-earth. Then she exchanges terra firma for water – and, suddenly and literally, she is in her element: one of the best in history, a serial record-breaker.

"You do have two personalities: one when you're competing, one when you're not," she said. "I think it's hard for people not involved in sport to be around me, because they don't understand that. I've got the rest of my life to go out and drink, to travel, to ski. People think I miss out on being a normal 21-year-old, but at the end of the day I'm getting so much more from doing something I truly love. I actually think it's them that are missing out."

Rebecca Adlington is supporting Spots v Stripes, Cadbury's campaign to get the nation playing in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Rebecca Adlington

Age 21

The 800m freestyle world record holder has won six major international gold medals in her career.

2 Adlington's golds at the 2010 Delhi games. She became the first British swimmer to win an Olympic gold since 1988 and the first double champion since 1908.

Chief of 2014 Commonwealth Games says Glasgow will be ready two years early

THE facilities for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 will be in place two years before the event gets under way, chief executive John Scott has insisted.

Glasgow organisers are using the slogan "We're ready - are you?" to indicate their confidence that the completion of new stadiums and the renovation of others will be made well within the required time frame.

It is a state of preparedness in stark contrast to the situation in Delhi, where some facilities were only just finished on time and others are still not fully operational.

Mr Scott did not make the contrast explicitly, but he did not have to.

One of the key facets of Glasgow's bid for the Games was the fact that so many venues - Hampden, Ibrox and Celtic Park among others - were already built, and that others only needed renovation, which could be done with some time to spare.

"I am extremely confident that Glasgow is going to put on an outstanding Games," Mr Scott said yesterday at Scotland House, the team's base in a New Delhi hotel.

"We are a different environment (from Delhi].

"This (Scotland] is a country that has had experience of sport for a long time.

"It's a country that had a lot of its venues already in place, therefore has had some experience of staging this kind of event.

"We didn't have the scale of infrastructure and ambition that Delhi had - Delhi not only has built all these new sports venues, it has put in a metro system and an incredible new road system.

"Good for them. They wanted to move this city and this country forward.

"We are also having some legacy impact (on Glasgow]. There's the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome, the national indoor sports arena, the entertainment arena.

"We are very fortunate that we are well on track. All of them will be complete - all of the capital projects will be complete by 2012 - which will give us that wonderful window between the end of 2012 and the Games to prepare.

"We will have an opportunity to test those events. We have already secured the world junior track cycling championships for 2013.

"That will test that venue at that level of competition. We are in a very good place to be well prepared."

One important reason for that preparedness, according to Mr Scott, is the fact that London will host the Olympics two years before the Glasgow Games.

The two organising committees have already signed an agreement to work together in a number of practical ways.

"We will benefit hugely from London. London is two years prior to us: that is a big, multi-sport games in a British context. We've got excellent relationships.

"Don't forget: Glasgow is an Olympic city.

It's part of that planning."

Colleagues of Mr Scott's have been here as part of the Commonwealth Games Federation's observer programme, hoping to learn from what has gone right in the Indian capital as well as what has gone wrong.

From the feedback that Mr Scott has been given so far, he believes the sheer novelty of an event such as this has been responsible for some of the problems.

"All Games have their problems and challenges, and Delhi has had some challenges.

"The big challenge for India is that it doesn't have a familiarity with many of these sports.

"This is a sleeping giant as far as sport is concerned.

"I'm not here to criticise Delhi. Our role is to deliver a Games that fits firmly with our stated ambition.

"Glasgow is a city that is familiar with events and has done many events before, but it has never done anything of this scale.

"That's why it's important that we remain aware and cannot be complacent. You can learn from any event you go to."

The Commonwealth Games needs its Tempest in a Turban

An Indian athlete in Wales was first to register in me a youthful awareness of the Commonwealth Games. Of course, it still cloaked itself in the grand imperial garb of Empire Games 52 years ago when only the sixth meet of the quadrennial series was held in the midsummer of 1958 at the old Arms Park in Cardiff.

All matters Empire were still loftily haughty, and snootily disdained was the metric measure of the Olympics. Serious business was still measured in feet, yards and inches. Thus it was in the classic 440 yards one-lap sprint in which, out of the blue and alongside the Taff, did the bearded, blistering Sikh, Milkha Singh, spread-eagle the field to have the next day's Daily Express eulogising "The Tempest in a Turban".

Two years later, Milkha was back in Britain to win the AAA's 440 yards title at White City as warm-up for the Rome Olympics, where he was fourth by a blink in an almost blanket finish in (still) the best-ever 400m final. The three medallists (an American, a German and a South African) were fractions ahead of him and the first two broke the world record. More than half a century later, it was terrific to catch a snatch of a BBC interview with him this Monday afternoon just before his young compatriot Tintu Luka failed in her brave but barmy frontrunning attempt to win the women's 800 metres final ("Alas for the bat out of hell", commiserated Denise Lewis).

As a teenager Milkha had lost his parents and three elder brothers in the horrors of 1947 partition but after Rome he was a permanent hero to Kashmir where, to encourage Indian athletes, he personally offered the equivalent in rupees of £3,000 to anyone who could break his Indian record of 45.73 seconds. It was all of 38 years till, in 1998, the Sikh policeman Paramjeet Singh claimed to have been 0.03 of a second faster at a local upcountry meet. Sensing the cop was planning to share the prize with the stopwatch timekeeper, old Milkha, apparently, flatly refused to pay up, saying he had stipulated his record had to be broken, as it had been achieved, on foreign soil.

When the Turbanned Tempest was triumphant at Cardiff in 1958, I was just over the border, a greenhorn cub covering ploughing matches and pony trials for the Hereford Times, and it was a long dozen years till my own debutant's dip into a Commonwealth Games press box where, by 1970 at Edinburgh, the Empire bit had been dropped and so had the imperial measurements.

We had piled into the grey old Caledonian city in July hotfoot and buzzing from June's World Cup in Mexico – PelĂ©, Jairzinho and all that joyous jazz. In the event, however, there was colourful enchantment enough to come and I've warmly hoarded ever since a vivid recall of what remains, all these 40 years on, still the most compelling championship footrace I've witnessed – the breathtaking 5,000m final when Scotland's 21-year‑old Ian Stewart blazingly held off his compatriot Ian McCafferty, with the two of them leaving stellar all-time champs Kip Keino and Ron Clarke in their slipstream. Still the stuff of wonder.

With a purr of contented recall as well, I was still in bright-eyed salad days' form eight years on at the Commonwealth Games of Edmonton, first to lay eyes on the bonny smile of Tessa Sanderson and the immense natural promise of the kids Barry McGuigan, Steve Cram and the astonishing Daley Thompson.

Since those heady times, however, have these Commonwealth Games become increasingly pointless? Ersatz competition for second-raters, a pallid colonial salute to a nostalgic and faded past? BBC's broadcasting and its dreaded jingo-jangle – only events which include Brits are bothered with – can stretch only so far.

Delhi's appeal has been only in its smiles, its opportunities only for last-gasp deserving oldies or no-hope non-elite novices. Realists can sneer only at a low-grade feeder event that, in first division global terms in track and field, makes for very small beer indeed. The rot probably set in when crook megalomaniac Robert Maxwell was allowed to "save" – hilariously not as it turned out – Edinburgh's second and bankrupted rain-sodden Games of 1986.

How many more closing ceremonies will the Commonwealth Games celebrate after tomorrow's in Delhi? Edinburgh's neighbours Glasgow in four years' time will be hard pressed, I fancy, to redeem the whole jamboree's very raison d'ĂȘtre and existence.

Commonwealth Games 2010: India beat England on penalties to reach hockey final

England have lost another major sporting semi-final on penalties. India staged a remarkable comeback, advancing to the hockey final against Australia on Wednesday, after beating England on penalty strokes.

After leading 3-1 at the break, India turned round the advantage with the help of 16,000 baying Indians at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium as the hosts won 5-4 on penalties.

Glenn Kirkham missed the vital stroke but he formed part of an England side who played their hearts out on another memorable evening for Indian hockey and more importantly for the Commonwealth Games.

The win handed India a final berth for the first time since the sport's introduction at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur. It will also have atoned for their 3-2 defeat to England in the World Cup on the same pitch earlier this year.

Ashley Jackson's deadly instinct in front of goal looked to have swung the semi-final when he scored two contrasting penalty corners to give England the advantage.

But India's full-scale fightback started when Vikram Pillay scored with a majestic strike before Jackson hit the post going for his hat-trick.

A 4-1 score line would have sealed a final berth against a spirited Indian side but the hosts were unnerved and a series of attacking plays were rewarded when Saravanjit Singh stroked the equaliser between James Fair's legs.

The England stopper, named goalkeeper of the tournament when England won the European title last year, was by far the busiest of the night, keeping out a persistent wave of Indian attacking as Barry Middleton's side held on until full-time and throughout the 15 minutes of extra play.

Earlier, Shivendra had the first genuine chance 15 minutes into the match when he was fed an inviting cross right to his stick. Shivendra turned quickly enough on to his left but saw his shot go just wide of Fair's far post.

Two minutes later the National Stadium erupted as India won their first penalty corner. The crowd sensed something – after all the hosts had blitzed Pakistan apart on Sunday with two early goals – and they were rewarded again when Saravanjit Singh slotted past Fair after the Englishman's initial save from Sandeep Singh, India's lanky defender and drag-flicker.

Almost immediately, Simon Mantell had space inside India's circle to equalise but his shot whipped away from goal and the advancing Ashley Jackson, England's top marksman here, couldn't quite convert.

It was set to be the last meaningful chance of a first-half dominated by India, but there was one final twist when England were handed a vital penalty corner with 10 seconds remaining. Adam Dixon teed-up Jackson who stroked it low past Bharat Chetri.

Jackson's jubilation gave England renewed impetus heading into the break with several players looking a spent force as the penalty corner was awarded.

But with India getting themselves back into contention it seemed the pendulum of fortune had sung in their favour.

Despite Fair's heroics during normal and extra time, it was not to be when the strokes were taken and England must now play New Zealand for the bronze.

Wednesday's bronze medal play-off between England's women and South Africa will be their third of the summer following two bronze medal success against Germany, one at the Champions Trophy in Nottingham in July and one at the World Cup in Rosario in September.

After the women's tearful defeat to the Australians, they will do well to raise their game for both bronze play-offs.

CWG: TT federation still waits for complimentary tickets

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) says the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee has not responded to its request for complimentary tickets for table tennis matches at the Yamuna Sports Complex, though many seats remain vacant.

We wrote a letter to the secretary general of OC for providing us with complimentary tickets four days ago. We have got no response from him till date. Table tennis is not a popular game in this country and it is critical for us to invite people who can fund us for organising tournaments, a TTFI official told IANS requesting anonimity.

The complex can seat 4,200 people with 1,100 seats at the show courts and 3,100 at match courts. Forty percent of the tickets have been reserved for the general public and the rest for sponsors and foreign tourists. Not many foreign tourists have been seen at the complex, according to the official.

The federation officials said since they did not have the complimentary tickets they took the help of police officials Monday to get entry to the complex for an 'important' guest.

"We did not have the tickets Monday but we had a very important guest coming to see a match. So, we spoke to the police officials for granting him entry without the ticket. There was no other option, said the TTFI official.

Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general and the official spokesperson of the OC, was not available for comments.

CWG closing to be 'different'

It will be a "spectacular mass song and dance celebration" at Thursday's Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, with a colourful laser show as the highlight, according to the creative team behind the show.

"The closing ceremony will be a spectacular mass song and dance celebration. The closing is all about celebration… it is going to be very youthful, just like a hip hop party," Viraf Sarkari, director Wizcraft International Entertainment, told IANS.

Sarkari revealed that unlike the opening ceremony, which was a melange of elements from 5,000 years of Indian culture and heritage, the closing ceremony will be more contemporary.

"We will be showcasing martial arts, then there will also be a group of 2,010 school children performing in a segment called ‘Tribute to Motherland', followed by a song and dance segment called ‘Music of Universal Love'… All in all the closing ceremony will have 7,000 performers," said Sarkari.

The Rs.40 crore-worth aerostat will be the star attraction at the closing ceremony too. It was successfully used to project animation and graphics during the CWG opener Oct 3. This apart, a special laser show has been planned as well.

Just like the opening ceremony, the closing event will be devoid of any performance by any actors. However, the Bollywood quotient will be added by the presence of singers like Sunidhi Chauhan, Shankar Mahadevan and Kailash Kher, among others.

"These singers will be part of the song and dance segment. But any speculations about a Bollywood actor performing at the event are untrue," clarified Sarkari.

According to Sarkari, a troupe from Glasgow will also put up a performance after the CWG flag is handed over to officials for the next CWG in 2014.

The closing ceremony will be very different from the opening event, he promises.

"The opening ceremony was very formal. But the closing has to be fun… the whole mood will be very different. Those who have won medals will celebrate… and the purpose of the closing ceremony will be pure enjoyment and celebration," said acclaimed ad filmmaker and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, who is part of the three-member committee for the event.

But will the show be better than the opener?
"They can't be compared… they are very, very different," Sarkari concluded.

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