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The Games all set to roll

Kamesh Srinivasan

After months of controversies, scams and public revulsion

— Photo: R. V. Moorthy

READY TO SIZZLE: The opening ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue for the Games, might well set the tone for a wonderful fortnight.

NEW DEHI: Not many multi-discipline games around the world would have done the last lap in such a record time as New Delhi has done for the Commonwealth Games.

A week ago, the very conduct of the Games would have looked uncertain. By Saturday, things were finally falling into place for a grand Sunday opening at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The Games are after all set to roll after months of controversies, debates, charges counter-charges, scams and public revulsion.

Now, almost everyone is saying the Games would be a success. There could be doubts, though about fine-tuning the organisational aspects in the initial stages.

Record rains have given away to bright sunshine the past few days and Delhi looks ready to get on with the 11-day competition that will include many a world and Olympic champion, apart from some of the brightest young stars of Indian sports.

If anything, the Indian athletes are anxious to project a healthy image of India and its sports.

From the uncertainty of the Games happening despite seven years of notice and unmatched resources, as the leading nations threatened withdrawal, complaining of the unhygienic living conditions at the Village, security concerns and other health considerations, there is a dramatic turnaround of record participation.

Intimidating exercise

It may be an intimidating exercise trying to keep pace with Australia, which has dominated the Games over the years, but it will not be beyond a bunch of determined Indian athletes to challenge England for the No.2 spot in the overall medals table.

In the last edition in 2006, India had won 22 gold, when Australia (84), England (36) and Canada (26) had finished ahead. It is time to tweak the equation, and go for a 50-gold assault.

World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, world champions Sushil Kumar, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Tejaswini Sawant, a string of world record holders led by Gagan Narang and Ronjan Sodhi, world No.2 badminton star Saina Nehwal, multiple Grand Slam champions, tennis stars Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi and a clutch of other world beaters like world and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh, have given the confidence to the rest of Indian athletes, to believe in their ability.

Fifth in list

India has won 102 gold medals in the Games over the years, and stands fifth in the list behind Australia (731), England (578), Canada (413) and New Zealand (124). It had finished fourth in the last two editions in Manchester and Melbourne.

India has won 271 medals in all, a modest collection as compared to Australia (1906), England (1701), Canada (1318) and New Zealand (530), Scotland (330), South Africa (280).

That should give a fair hint of the challenge ahead, in India's attempt to take the No.2 spot behind the mighty Australia and ahead of England, host of the 2012 Olympics in London.

The unsavoury doping scandals that cropped up with a month to go for the Games might have given an indication about the task that lies ahead of the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA).

In the end, all the negative projections in the build-up phase may work in favour of the host, as the world is bound to be fascinated by what unfolds in majestic arenas over the next 12 days.

It is time to show the world. Come on Delhi, come on India!

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