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Athletes Village comes in for praise

Kamesh Srinivasan

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

FINE TUNING:Indian hockey team captain Rajpal Singh tries his hand at a different ball game at the Games Village before getting into serious practice mode for the competitions.

NEW DELHI: A lot of gloom lifted from the atmosphere thanks to the bright sunshine, and more importantly with the arrival of athletes into the much-maligned Games Village, as Delhi tried its best to overcome the pangs in its efforts to deliver a memorable Commonwealth Games.

‘'We are trying to enjoy and relax in the Village atmosphere before starting our training this evening,'' said Vikram Pillay, a key player of the Indian hockey team, even as he tried his hand at a round of snooker with Arjun Halappa, in the games room of the International Zone on Friday.

The Indian team had landed from Pune around midnight on Thursday, and reached the Village about two hours later. It was understandable that the players and coach Jose Brasa took it easy in the morning.

Comfortable

Lodged in Tower 29 in the Village, the hockey players said that they were comfortable. Skipper Rajpal Singh said that he was sure that it would be good and stressed that the accommodation, shared by two per room, was “very good''.

After a good lunch, the players appeared happy and said that they were looking forward to fine tuning their preparation.

The Indian women's hockey team coach and former captain Pritam Rani Siwach was impressed with the Games Village.

“I like the Village; it feels like as if you are in a foreign country. It is very good from every aspect — like stay, dining hall and food,” she said.

“Minor problems are found everywhere. The organisers are making every effort to put things in place. I have participated in some Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in the past, but this Village seems to be the best of them all,” Pritam said.

It was more serious business for the top officials at the Village, as the CGF president Mike Fennell was closeted with various groups of people to discuss a number of issues.

He left with Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, to meet Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar for further discussions.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who has taken over the responsibility of getting the Village to international standards in terms of hygiene and maintenance, visited the Village in the afternoon.

There was a large team of television crew from the “rights holding broadcasters'' from abroad, that was taken on a guided tour of the Village. Taking the health instructions in right earnest, many of the members were seen liberally spraying mosquito repellent on the exposed areas of their body before venturing into the Village.

There were minimal facilities for the media to operate from the Games Village, though the security was reluctant to allow even biscuit packets and water for the photographers. There was a strict time limit of 45 minutes per journalist for a visit to the International Zone from the media work area.

Coming to life

The International Zone in itself was slowly coming to life. It had a variety of services, ranging from a hair salon, dry cleaning, florist, post office, tour and travel office, phone shop, handicrafts store, general store, games merchandise store, ATM, internet café, TV lounge, disco, restaurant, bar apart from the games room that has chess, Chinese checkers and dart as well as many tables for the green baize game.

You could see one of the residential towers sporting a huge banner of ‘Dragons Lair', indicating it being readied for the Australian team.

Australia tops the medals table every time in the Commonwealth Games and it would indeed draw a lion's share of attention, both at the Village and at all the sporting venues.

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