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Athletes' views on Commonwealth Games woes

A bridge collapses in Delhi
The Indian authorities face a race against time to ensure venues are safe

The 2010 Commonwealth Games should get under way in Delhi next week, but a succession of problems - from the minor to the very serious - have dogged the build-up to the sporting showpiece.

As organisers undertake emergency repairs to ensure venues and accommodation are fit for purpose in time for the event, which runs from 3-14 October, three former Games competitors tell BBC Sport how the disruption may affect athletes.

OLYMPIC 400M BRONZE MEDALLIST KATHARINE MERRY
Katharine Merry

Athletes do not leave any stone unturned during their preparations, so concerns about hygiene standards and structurally sound buildings will be a huge problem.

I've heard athletes may have to squeeze in two or three to a room in the accommodation block, which could be an issue.

Athletes compete at different times of the day and have different daily routines, so two or three people in a room could lead to sleep patterns being disrupted. If there are paper-thin walls to contend with, that will only add to the problems.

It's a ready-made excuse should things go wrong for the athletes

I only ever shared with one other person during my athletic career. Some of the rooms I stayed in were small - you could hardly swing a cat - but at least they were clean and habitable, which meant I could concentrate on the job at hand.

Some competitors will shrug their shoulders and get on with things, while others will voice their displeasure.

Athletes will talk about the conditions and what their rooms are like, which all distracts from what they should be doing - and that is focusing on winning a medal rather than worrying about whether a rival has a better room.

And they now have a ready-made excuse should they fail to perform.

FORMER BADMINTON CHAMPION GAIL EMMS
Gail Emms

I stayed in some weird and wonderful places during my career - some places were awful - but most of the time there was never really anything to worry about other than some dodgy accommodation.

But if I had been faced with the security and safety concerns that currently face those competitors going to Delhi, I would worry about phone calls from concerned parents.

And that sort of thing would definitely affect my preparations.

As for the athletes' village, that is the place I would want to be able to rest and escape the external heat.

Competitors just want to relax and recover in an air-conditioned room, switch off and watch DVDs when they are not competing - that's how boring our lives can be at a major competition.

There is a lot of spare time between practising and matches, but you don't want to spend any of that sorting out problems in your room.

OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALLIST DIVER LEON TAYLOR
Leon Taylor

There are all sorts of rumours going around about the venues in Delhi but some of them will be greatly exaggerated.

For example, speculation was flying around prior to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens that the venues were not going to be ready. Yet to my knowledge there were very few, if any, problems at all.

From an athlete's point of view, you have to ask yourself if this is a situation you can control or not. If the village is not up to the standard it should be, then you just have to let it go because you cannot really do anything about it.

An athlete can make contingency plans, like bringing an extra batch of nutrition bars because the food might not be up to scratch, extra money for bottled water or being extra careful about washing hands.

Your job as an athlete is to do the best you can under the circumstances you are faced with.

I remember staying in a university dormitory, which wasn't exactly huge, during the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. You just need a little positivity to make the best out of bad situation.

Gail, Katharine and Leon were talking to BBC Sport's Pranav Soneji



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see also
England to stick with Games plans
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
NI stick to Delhi departure plan
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
English trio out of Commonwealths
22 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
British teams raise Delhi doubts
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Aussie Samuels out of Delhi Games
21 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Delhi Games bridge collapse
21 Sep 10 |  South Asia
Delhi Games village 'will be ready'
21 Sep 10 |  South Asia
Wales green light for Games trip
23 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games


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