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Abi Walker column

India's athletes rejoice at the end of the Games
India's athletes were inspired by the enthusiasm of the crowds in Delhi

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.

With the crack of fireworks and a riot of colour, it was finished. The Commonwealth Games closed with the official handover to Glasgow, as marked by the passing of the flag.

After the closing ceremony, there was a handover party at Scotland House, which proved to be the hottest ticket in town. Initially, it was to be limited to Scots athletes and team delegates.

But when Prince Edward, Kelly Holmes, and Mark Cavendish ask if they can come to your party then its hard to say no! It was a great night to end on, with everyone on fine form and offered a chance to mix with the whole team and celebrate our many success stories.

From an athlete's perspective, the Games have been a success. At the start of the Games, there were rightful concerns about the size of the crowds and that the people of Delhi seemed indifferent towards sport unless it was cricket.

The momentum really gathered over the following days, though, and by the end the crowds more than met expectations.

We played our final game against Wales on Tuesday evening, which went to extra time and then penalties, and the final penalty wasn't taken until after 10pm. As I steadied myself in goal, the roar of the crowd was so deafening that I couldn't hear the whistle of the umpire who was standing five yards from me.

From now, it's all about working towards creating the moment in Glasgow that we will want to remember forever

That was incredible: Scotland versus Wales in a slightly tedious seventh-place play-off that had dragged on late into the night and still the Indian crowd were going wild.

That, for me, summed up the spirit of these Games - you could argue that Delhi has fallen down in nailing the fine detail, but my goodness you can't doubt the passion, the warmth and the unceasing humbling generosity of the Indian people.

I think that Delhi has set a high standard in many aspects that Glasgow will really have to pull out all the stops to follow.

Firstly, these Games have been manned by absolutely enormous numbers of volunteers and literally to a man they have been the most polite, helpful, cheerful people I have ever met. That will be tough to match, particularly in the sheer weight of numbers, but I think we'll step up to the plate with our famous Glasgow charm.

Secondly, India has exceeded all expectations in terms of medals and there has been a match-up between good performances from their athletes and fanatical home support giving them the extra inch on the field.

As athletes, we have to take that challenge on to give the crowds something to cheer about and that means we all have to move our game on in the next four years.

Four years is a long time in sport; competing at a major games is the product of thousands of training hours where there's no guarantee that you'll even be selected. There are days when you wake up so sore you can barely walk to the bathroom and yet have to do it all again and you ask yourself: why am I doing this to myself?

And then there are days like Tuesday, when you save the penalty to win the game for your country. At those moments, you tell yourself: remember this. Remember this feeling to get you through the hard times.

Memories like these from Delhi will stay with us all who were here and, from now, it's all about working towards creating the moment in Glasgow that we will want to remember forever.

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

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