Commonwealth Games off to a spectacular start | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Commonwealth Games off to a spectacular start

delhi Updated: Oct 04, 2010 07:55 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
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You can feel the opening ceremony’s boundless, relentless energy. When thousands of voices roar in unison and the air reverberates with a force that connects to your core. Waves of sound overwhelm your soul, and for that one fragment of time, you become part of a single, throbbing organism, 50,000-strong.

Delhi gave full-throated vent to its pleasure to usher in the 19th Commonwealth Games, which was declared open by Britain’s Prince Charles, at a packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday. Immediately afterwards, President Pratibha Patil said: "Let the Games begin."

An opening drum sequence followed by — believe it or not — an Incredible India advertisement did leave spectators a bit fidgety initially, despite the dazzle of the world’s biggest helium balloon soaring in the middle of the arena.

The long procession of contingents from the 71 competing countries came next. That was tedious, yet the most essential part of these proceedings — after all, this is all about the athletes.

The one time the crowd became enthused during this period was — surprise, surprise — when the Pakistan contingent made its appearance. By the time the Indian contingent trooped in last of all, Delhi was champing at the bit.

But at the sight of the home team, they once again cheered. A tsunami of sound washed over stand after stand as the contingent wound its way around the stadium. But Delhi's frustration with the chaotic and embarrassing run up to the Games showed when Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi rose to speak.

He was repeatedly booed. There was a smattering of applause when he thanked the volunteers, spoke in Hindi and spoke about India as an emerging superpower, but that was it.

It took the sight of the flame and India's best athletes running alongside it to get the audience enthusiastic again. Fittingly, it was the humble grappler Sushil Kumar who shared the stage with English royalty and the cream of this country when he handed over the torch to Prince Charles. The Games have begun.