Five days of CWG: On track, but jerks remain | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Five days of CWG: On track, but jerks remain

delhi Updated: Oct 08, 2010 22:27 IST
Commonwealth Games

The pool water is clean, but the toilets in the aquatic venue are blocked. Ticket sales are on the increase but the stadiums still seem mostly empty. There was a "major communications blunder" at the track that nearly resulted in athletes being presented with their medals despite the race being under protest.

It's day five of competition at the Commonwealth Games. But somehow, based on all the problems, they all seem to have a common theme.

Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell on Friday said officials at the athletics stadium erred the previous night by not telling the medalists in the women's 100 that the event was under protest. The original winner, Sally Pearson of Australia, was later disqualified.

"There was a problem ... there was a major communication blunder," Fennell said.

On a day when 43 gold medals were to be presented, the sports often seemed to be an afterthought, not helped by a results system that has not worked properly since the games opened.

Fennell is part of what is called the "games-time management committee." It meets every morning, and on Friday they had several new and continuing issues to handle: a Pakistan official reporting that $550 had been stolen from his room at the athletes' village; the reports of blocked toilets at the swimming venue; poor quality of food to volunteers; and trying to get approval for helicopters to encroach on restricted airspace over the city for television coverage of the marathon and road cycling events.

But the biggest question mark of all: if 900,000 tickets have been sold, why do many of the stadiums appear nearly empty?

Previous problems in the leadup to the games included construction delays, corruption allegations, concerns about security, outbreaks of dengue fever and, perhaps the most damaging, complaints about unfinished and filthy accommodations in the athletes' village just days before teams were due to arrive.

One mystery out of the way Friday was the quality of the pool water, which was suspected of being responsible for a dozen or more cases of "Delhi belly" affecting mostly Australian and English swimmers.

Fennell said three pools were tested — including the main pool and warmup pool at the aquatics venue — "and the tests results of all those pools is that the water is in keeping with the standards that are required. There are no problems with the water in those pools."

He said the Commonwealth Games Federation doctor had spoken to several team doctors and "they all agreed that the problems they are having with some of the athletes and officials in the village is not from the water, but could be caused by a number of other things."

Fennell also said that the spiked security barrier which malfunctioned and slammed into a Ugandan team car, injuring three of its officials, would be "demobilized so there could be no fear of a recurrence."

Among the eight track gold medals on Friday's program, Andy Turner led an England sweep of the medals in the 110-meter hurdles, winning in 13.38 from William Sharman and Lawrence Clarke.

Australia was dominant at the velodrome and the pool, rounding off track cycling with 12 gold medals from 14 events.

Cameron Meyer collected his third gold with victory in the 20-kilometer scratch race, while the Australians also beat New Zealand to win the men's team sprint.

World champion Alison Shanks won the women's individual pursuit, holding off Olympic silver medalist Wendy Houvenaghel of Northern Ireland.

Led by comeback king Geoff Huegill and veteran Leisel Jones, Australia won four more gold medals in the pool to lift its meet-leading total to 15.

Huegill, completing his return from a four-year retirement and the loss of 50 kilograms (110 pounds) that he packed on while not swimming, won the 100-meter butterfly.

"Words can't describe how I feel. ... The last time I swam that quickly was 10 years ago," Huegill said.

Rebecca Adlington and Liam Tancock of England broke the Australian dominance. Tancock won the 100 backstroke and Adlington, the Olympic champion in the 400 and 800, added the 400 to her earlier win in the longer distance.

South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh completed the men's 50-100 breaststroke double, while Yolane Kukla of Australia won the women's 50-meter freestyle from England's Francesca Halsall.

India's Sania Mirza lived up to local expectations by reaching the women's final of the first tennis tournament ever held at the Commonwealth Games.

The tiny Pacific island of Nauru earned its first gold when weightlifter Yukio Peter lifted a games record combined total of 333 kilograms to win the 77-kilogram division.

Five gold medals were on offer in gymnastics and shooting, and the first in badminton.

Many of those venues were completed well after they were supposed to, which prevented many so-called "test events" from being held. Staging test events would have allowed officials to iron out many of the major problems they are being forced to deal with during these games.

"I don't want to argue that if the stadiums had been delivered to the organizing committee earlier, it would have been better," Fennell said. "There is no question about that."