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Asia

Commonwealth Games: the awakening of a giant?

Badminton queen Saina Nehwal's gold secured India the second place on the medal table. Games chief Michael Fennell praised the successful conduct of Delhi 2010.

Saina Nehwal won India's 38th gold medal

Saina Nehwal won India's 38th gold medal

Nehwal was a match point down, and still came back to claim gold. Perhaps it was symbolic of this year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the capital of India. If India had had ambitions to repeat China's performance in making the Olympic Games a showcase for the country's capability and progress, they were soon muted, since the Games began in a veritable miasma of chaotic preparations and organizational blunders.

A cobra in the toilet

A newly built footbridge collapsed, wounding laborers.The world saw pictures of the unfinished athletes' village, dirty toilet facilities and stray dogs - and heard reports of the occasional venomous snake. Suresh Kalmadi, the chief local organizer, became the boo-man as the costs of the Games soared to a whopping six billion US dollars. Security and health fears led to some foreign athletes not venturing to New Delhi.

Australian fans cheer for their team, which beat India 8-0 in the men's hockey final

Australian fans cheer for their team, which beat India 8-0 in the men's hockey final

"Delhi has performed"

But, as Commonwealth Games chief Michael Fennell put it on the last day of the 12-day extravaganza, "Delhi has performed and the overall image of the games has been extremely positive". Kalmadi, too, claims that the games were built around the athletes and that the athletes have enjoyed themselves.

Sleeping giant

But the main dividend from the games, for India, might well be not in terms of public relations but as a portent for the future. The success of India's athletes has created new stars, who could turn into new role models and awaken ambitions in young breasts in the cricket-mad country. Indian cities do not have the most modern sports facilities, if they have any at all. If India could win all those medals without such infrastructure, what will the sleeping giant do with one?

Author: Arun Chowdhury
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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