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Commonwealth Games 2010: Delhi event hailed a success

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Commonwealth Games chief Mike Fennell hailed Delhi 2010 a success despite the event getting off to a troubled start.

The Games overcame concerns on security and infrastructure to end with a lively closing ceremony, as the hosts' mantle was officially passed to Glasgow 2014.

"Delhi has performed," said Fennell. "The competition has gone well, the venues were of a high standard and the athletes are happy.

"We had to deal with a number of issues but the end result has been good."

Fennell conceded that the decision to award the Games to Delhi had been questioned in many quarters as preparations fell behind schedule.

MATTHEW PINSENT'S BLOG

There were serious problems with the athletes' village and certain venues, while other setbacks included a collapsed pedestrian footbridge, ticketing confusion, poor crowds and big-name withdrawals.

But Fennell maintained that Delhi deserved the chance to stage its first multi-sport event since the 1982 Asian Games and insisted it had proved a worthy host.

"Before the Games people were asking me 'why are you going to India? Why are you going to Delhi? When are you going to cancel the Games?'," he said.

"But we felt it was our job to fix what was wrong not give up. A year out from the Games people asked 'what is your Plan B?' I said 'our Plan B is Delhi'.

"I don't blame the media for exposing what had to be exposed. It was important to expose some of the fundamental problems and that helped. It helped us to get action going in some areas.

COMMONWEALTH MEDALS TABLE
Gold medals and total medals won:
1. Australia 74 gold, 177 overall
2. India 38, 101
3. England 37, 142
4. Canada 26, 75
5. South Africa 12, 33
10. Scotland 9, 26
13. Northern Ireland 3, 10
15. Wales 2, 19

"People have seen an extremely positive image of the Games through television, right across the world."

Fennell accepted that a tough task lay ahead in persuading top athletes - such as Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt - to fit the Games into their calendars in the future after opting not to compete in Delhi.

"We have to look at the timing of our event - October is the end of the season for track and field athletes - and a lot of athletes were put off by the reports on a lack of preparedness and chose to pull out," he said.

"Also in hindsight I think more could have been done to mobilise spectators as it was disappointing that in the early days of the Games a lot of stands were empty.

"We have to make sure we present the Games in a more positive way and rebuild that demand in the lead-up to Glasgow 2014."

We're hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, let's get the Scots out, cheering the home team on and hopefully we'll see some outstanding performances from the Scottish team

Glasgow 2014 chief executive John Scott

Delhi 2010 organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi was jeered at the start of his closing speech, but remained upbeat in his assessment of the Games.

"For the athletes it has been a life-changing experience. For India it has been a new beginning in sports," he told a capacity crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"For the world it has been evidence of what India can do on the sporting stage. This is a new era for Indian sport. All this has made what has turned out to be the largest, the most watched and the most enjoyable Games ever.

"A month ago, questions were being asked whether the Games would be held at all. We drew inspiration from [India's first prime minister Jawaharlal] Nehru: 'Success does not come suddenly or without setbacks'."

Kalmadi, who called the experience an "amazing journey in the face of series of roadblocks", added: "We remained committed to our task. We have learnt a lot and continue to learn.

JAMES PEARCE'S BLOG

"The Games displayed India's ability to stand up and show the world what we can achieve, despite being faced with adversity. This is not the end. In fact this is just the beginning."

The two-and-a-half hour closing ceremony - a dance, music and fireworks spectacular attended by India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prince Edward - gave a finishing sparkle to the 11-day event.

Archer Nicky Hunt, who won two gold medals, carried England's flag and shooter Jon Hammond did the honours for Scotland after becoming his country's most prolific medal-winning athlete in a single Games with four.

Rob Weale, who won gold on Wednesday and now has a Games record six lawn bowls medals, took Wales' flag and silver medallist Steven Ward of Northern Ireland, part of the most successful boxing team at the Games, was his country's carrier.

Following Kalmadi's speech, the Commonwealth Games flag was officially handed over to Scotland and Glasgow 2014 chief executive John Scott outlined his aims.

A team of Scottish performers then wowed the crowd with a modern take on their country's heritage. It was full of music, colour and dance, with kilt-clad bagpipe players and even a mock Loch Ness monster.

GORDON FARQUHAR'S BLOG

"Indians have been doing very well here and that's great for India to be succeeding," said Scott. "This is the one thing we want to give to Scotland.

"We're hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, let's get the Scots out, cheering the home team on and hopefully we'll see some outstanding performances from the Scottish team."

The ceremony followed a day of competition in which India won a late badminton gold to leapfrog England into second place in the final medals table.

India's athletes performed beyond all expectations, with highlights including a memorable triumph for their women's 4x400m relay team and 10 wrestling golds.

Yet Australia were comfortably the most successful nation with 74 golds to India's 38 and England's 37. Scotland were 10th with nine golds, Northern Ireland 13th with three and Wales 15th with two.

Australian Alicia Coutts claimed five golds in the pool, while compatriot and fellow swimmer Leisel Jones collected the 10th Commonwealth gold of her career.

"Yes, a lot of top competitors were missing," said BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram. "But there were some undoubted talents coming to the fore here in Delhi and a sprinkling of world-class stars.

"It would be nice if more of the nations supported it. The Commonwealth Games has a valid place in world sport."



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Comment and analysis

Rebecca Adlinton showcases her gold medal - and painted nails Highs and lows from Delhi
Tom Fordyce picks some of the best moments and biggest characters

India's relay stars Will India secure Games legacy?
What India needs to do to build on sporting foundations

AP India on track
Matthew Pinsent hopes India emerges as a sporting powerhouse


see also
Commonwealth Games photos
14 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Glasgow on Commonwealth countdown
14 Oct 10 |  Glasgow & West
Delhi Games' top 10 moments
19 Oct 10 |  South Asia
Commonwealth Games: India's pride
14 Oct 10 |  South Asia
India beat England to second spot
14 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Pools not responsible for illness
08 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Delhi venue 'ready' for athletics
06 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Empty seats worry at Delhi Games
05 Oct 10 |  South Asia
Commonwealth Games begin in Delhi
03 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Games village 'needs more time'
28 Sep 10 |  South Asia
'All nations' to compete in Delhi
25 Sep 10 |  Commonwealth Games


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