Something to smile about

Swimmers give much-maligned Games Village a big thumbs-up

Something to smile about

So understandably, each time an Indian contingent enters the Village, the whole country shifts its focus to know the athletes’ assessment of their living area for the Commonwealth Games. It was the swimmers’ turn to produce a verdict on Monday and they gave the mega event a fillip by terming the facilities as world class.

After two postponements, the national swimmers finally got their first look at the Games Village situated on the banks of river Yamuna in Akshardam on Monday. The swimming squad was supposed to occupy their flats in Block No 30 on Friday but with some cleaning needed for the practice pool, the date was changed to Sunday before again being deferred to Monday afternoon.

But once Olympian Rehan Poncha and company entered the Village, the negative thoughts created mainly through the controversies that have been making the rounds in the last few weeks gave way to a safe and secure feeling.

“All our doubts about cleanliness and other things were cleared today when we entered the Village. I can say without any doubt that the facilities we’ve got here are world class. This is very, very, very good. The whole Village is the fantastic, food is excellent and the dining areas are top class,” said Poncha, who joined the team on Monday after undergoing training in the United States.

The 24-year-old Poncha, who participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2006 Melbourne CWG and Doha Asian Games, believes Delhi’s Games Village is far better than Melbourne. “This one is better than Melbourne. But it also is equally good when compared to the Villages in the Beijing and Doha meets,” pointed out Poncha.

Asserting that glitches are part and parcel of mega events, he went on, “No Games where I have competed have been without problems on the organisational front.
TheoOnly thing is that it differs with each city.”

While Poncha’s team-mate and Beijing Olympian Virdhawal Khade gave thumbs up to the Dr SP Mukherjee swimming pool, the venue for the swimming competition, the sprinter had mixed thoughts about the Village.

“Surely, it the quality is better than what we have read and heard about. Our area is very clean and tidy. In some parts of the Village, work is going on but overall, it pretty good. I have been to Beijing and I give more marks to them as everything was organised,” said Khade.

Long-distance swimmer Gagan AP of Karnataka joined his team-mates in praising the facilities. “I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Village is bad. We are in block No 30 where the rooms are spacious. We have all the basic amenities, washing machine, fridge and wardrobe and all these things are functioning properly also. I don’t know about other areas but where we live is excellent,” said Gagan.

National swimming coach Pradeep Kumar said: “This is really five-star standard. I think the people behind it have done a good job.”

The swimmers joined the archers, paddlers, weightlifters, gymnasts, hockey players, marksmen and pugilists at the Games Village.

“There is nothing to suggest that the Village is not good enough a place for the athletes to stay. These issues are blown out of proportion,” reasoned national table tennis coach Bhawani Mukherjee.

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