Commonwealth Games

SA athletes move into village

2010-09-28 14:53
SASCOC chef de mission Patience Shikwambana (Gallo)

New Delhi - Fears over collapsing bridges, snakes in bedrooms and general squalor in terms of their living conditions allayed, Team South Africa moved into the athletes village on Tuesday.

When the biggest team gripe about being in this chaotic city is about a bus being 30 minutes late, a piece of luggage that was swallowed up in the airport system on arrival, team managers' airtime not being topped up or lunch being served a while after being ordered, then you know that these Commonwealth Games are on track to start on schedule.

South Africa's athletes spent one night in a palatial five-star hotel on arrival on Monday before boarding the buses that took them into the athletes village on Tuesday.

A couple of days after other countries, like England and Scotland had been taken there virtually kicking and screaming over "unlivable" conditions, the South Africans embraced the move enthusiastically.

No one is suggesting that Delhi is as clean as a shiny new pin - there is visible poor living conditions all along the route to the athletes village - or that things run as smoothly as a Swiss clock.

However, where there is chaos - and one doesn't have to move more than a couple of metres to find it - it is organised chaos.

Inside the village there are labourers still planting grass, the finishing of the apartment fittings is shoddy, but, as track cyclist Dean Edwards says, "at least the place is clean. A week ago we would never have been able to live here, judging by the reports and pictures, but this looks fine, I'm very pleasantly surprised," he said walking around his apartment, which has two single beds, a bathroom and toilet en-suite, balcony, kitchen and TV area.

As is usually the case in complicated multi-coded events such as these, the days leading up to the opening ceremony are largely used to finalise training schedules and competitors get used to the environment and acclimatise.

Liezel Wium, captain of the Proteas netballers, was amongst those keen to shake off the flight cobwebs. They meet England in an all-important pool match in their opening game next week and that's followed by an equally demanding assignment against New Zealand.

"We're up for the challenge but now that we're here we just want to get on with it. The England game is going to be tough ... we're in a tough pool but we're in it to win it," she said.

One of the busiest of all the early arrivals is the weightlifter Mona Pretorius. "Things are fine, all is going well. I've already had two training sessions and although there's a bit of a wait until the competition actually starts for me, I'm glad to be here and enjoying it," she said.

A big talking point from the international media has been the "will they, won't they," arrival of the three track and field athletes, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, Khotso Mokoena and Caster Semenya.

Mulaudzi and Mokoena look certain to miss the Games through injury, but a decision will formally be made by SASCOC when the team is handed over to them before departing on September 30.

"If they are unfit we will still have a SASCOC medical team assess all three," SASCOC chef de mission Patience Shikwambana said.

"And based on that assessment we will know whether or not they will travel. If they don't, it will be a major blow to our medal aspirations," she added.

Read more on:    sascoc  |  commonwealth games

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