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Commonwealth Games 2002
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Play Denise Lewis Heptathlon BBC Sport

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Athletics Friday, 28 June, 2002, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
A sporting treat

I genuinely believe Manchester is going to host one of the great Commonwealth Games.

The athletics stadium is wonderful and the facilities are first rate.

I've been round the track, albeit in a wheelchair, racing with Tanni Grey-Thompson, and it is top class.

The second good bit of news is how well ticket sales have been going. So many have been sold that the atmosphere will be tremendous.

All we really have to worry about is the health of the athletes and making sure all the big names are there.

That's the one aspect you can't control. Everything else has gone according to plan.

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This is a world-level competition, featuring 72 nations who are among the strongest in the athletics world
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Steve Cram

A lot of people had reservations about whether the Games would be a success - but at this stage, we are set fair.

The standard of the competition depends on which event you look at. Some events will be very competitive, even more so than they will be at the European Championships, while others will be less so.

That's why you have to enjoy the Commonwealth Games for what they are. I don't like this business of comparing them to other championships, asking whether these are better or worse.

They are a world-level competition, featuring 72 nations who are among the strongest in the athletics world and some of the most talented individuals in the sport.

You have to accept them at that level. You can't say, oh, the 1500m was a bit weak. That sort of talk is a waste of time and breath.

There's plenty of hurdles for athletes to clear before they even get to the blocks.

The men's 100m is one of the most eagerly awaited events, and you could have potential medallists who won't even qualify.

Anyone who represents England in that event will be in with a fine chance of a medal - and that's one of the reasons why the 100m and 200m should be such good races.

I was talking to English middle distance runner Anthony Whiteman the other day. He was talking about doubling up at 800m and 1500m.

The Europeans are so close to the Commonwealths that my point to him was that you have to peak for Manchester, otherwise you have no time to pick yourself up for Munich.

For the sprinters that means they have to be in tip-top shape for the Commonwealths and then hope to carry their form forward to the Europeans.

That's just one of many reasons I expect to see some great performances.

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Steve Cram
"Tickets are sold out so the atmosphere will be fantastic"
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