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Abi Walker column

Scotland v India
Scotland drew 1-1 against hosts India in their opening match of the Games

Abi Walker
By Abi Walker
Scottish hockey goalkeeper at the Commonwealth Games

In a series of columns, Scottish hockey champion and medical surgeon Abigail Walker will be offering a look from inside Team Scotland's camp, reporting on her preparations, progression through the competition in Delhi and reaction after the Games.

You could say that we're becoming acclimatised to life in Delhi. I wasn't even fazed by the crowd of middle-aged Indian men chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!" in the stands behind the goal in the hockey stadium.

Luckily, rather than baying for blood in an ice hockey-style brawl, they were trying to urge on their exhausted team to fight for the win in our opening match against India.

I think the organisers will be a bit disappointed with the turn-out, but the crowd made a tremendous amount of noise and it was one of the best atmospheres I've ever played in.

I'm reliably informed that we even had a royal presence in the stands, as Prince Edward kindly came to watch (though I trust he wasn't one of the chaps chanting behind the goal).

It finished up in a 1-1 draw, which we were a bit disappointed with but that's just a marker of how high our expectations are.

Tournament hockey means that as soon as the final whistle blows in one match you start working towards the next: for us, that's the very next day against South Africa.

Tournament hockey means that as soon as the final whistle blows in one match you start working towards the next: for us, that's the very next day against South Africa.

A 24-hour turnaround is pretty tight between games, so the focus is on doing as much as possible to recharge the energy stores; ice baths, physio appointments for the walking wounded, and watching DVDs to try and wind down before bed.

There's been a palpable change in atmosphere over the last two days.

The beginning of competition has made the village seem much more business like, as athletes get down to the job that we're trained to do.

The village has also become significantly busier as we're now at maximum capacity for the Games, a change which is most easily noticed at the dining hall.

I have to say that the dining hall has been one of my highlights of these Games so far - not only for the marvellous (and unlimited) food on offer - but for the excellent people-watching opportunities.

It's a sport in itself trying to guess where somebody is from and what their event is, and that's before you've even got to analysing the contents of their tray.

There's nothing like standing next to the Jamaican sprint team to make you think about whether or not that second naan bread will really enhance your own bootyliciousness.

The beginning of competition also sees some sad stories to go with the excitement of the first events.

Injuries, defeat, underperformance - it's the horrible part of sport, and the possibility of each can creep into your mind when you least want it.

We've already seen one of our gymnasts hobbling about on crutches, and one of our hockey girls with her arm in a sling.

One of the best ways to keep spirits up is to share in each others successes - for example today we were getting ready for our match by flicking through the TV coverage of the Games and finding Scots to cheer on.

Around the village there's a camaraderie that is quite unique to Team Scotland - whenever you pass another Teamster, then there's a smile and a nod and perhaps a quick "Good luck!" if you know they're off to compete.

There's even a special Team Scotland medal chart at the reception of our apartment block - and we would love to see a few more added to that to see us on our way to the next match.

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see also
Abi Walker column
29 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth Games 2010: Form guide - hockey
29 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games

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