Athletes arriving in India amid the Commonwealth Games chaos have been united by a single cause: "We just want to compete." Scottish athletes heading for Delhi said yesterday that concerns about conditions would not hold them back. And a 30-strong contingent from Tanzania were presented with the national flag yesterday ahead of their departure today for the event that begins on Saturday and runs through October 14.
Peter Kirkbride, 22, the Scottish weightlifter, summed up the feeling of most of the competitors arriving for the troubled Games when he said concerns about preparation in Delhi did not faze him. He said: "I've done a lot of training. I just want to get out there and compete in the Commonwealth Games. Problems have not even been going through my mind. I've just been getting ready, anything else is nothing to do with me."
Glasgow is hosting the next Commonwealth Games in 2014 so the Scottish competitors will be paying more attention than most to the organisation involved in staging the Games. Edinburgh-born shooter Caroline Brownlie, 32, said: "The guys out there have checked things out and if they say it's fine to go, then I'm happy. We can't be too critical, because it's coming to us next." Her teammate Neil Stirton, 29, from Aberdeen, added: "As far as India is concerned, shooting is one of their top sports, so there's a lot of pressure on their shooters out there, which is fine for us. The facility is almost world class, it had a few finishing touches to do in February, so they've had seven or eight months to sort it out."
Fellow shooter Alan Ritchie, 37, said getting it right is important for India. "They want to get the Olympic Games and Formula One out there, so I think this is the key to get access for these events. By the time we get out there, settle in for a couple of days, it'll be fine." The Tanzania athletics team will be led by the men's defending marathon champion, Samson Ramadhan, and will also include Kenyan-born Dickson Marwa and Restituta Joseph, their top woman runner.
But at least eight nations have expressed reservations about the haphazard preparations. Individual athletes, including the reigning triple jump champion Phillips Idowu, of England, decided not to attend over safety fears.