As I drove into the headquarters of the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi on Tuesday morning, the countdown clock showed 299 days to go. It was a good time to let freeze frames from the past fortnight flood the mind.
The warm response that Sindhushree Khullar, Sports Secretary, and I drew at breakfast at the CHOGM in Port of Spain; the roadshow of the Commonwealth Business Club of India in Glasgow that sparked a good response and now the baton heads for an African safari.
I have seen some amazing pictures and read newspaper reports from far off lands and I know that there is tremendous enthusiasm there about the games.
Yet, one memory stands out: the eagerness of those who were at the launch of Delhi United — the volunteer programme for the Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi. Nearly 12,000 people have signed up for the programme and I must say that such spirit warms my heart. Such selfless citizens will be the face of the Games and the heartbeat of the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi in the run-up to and during the Games next year.
These champions will portray our rich culture to the visitors and in the process also add layers to their own personalities. Abhinav Bindra shared an interesting anecdote at the launch of Delhi United about how volunteers can make a stunning impression on athletes who are the fulcrum of sport.
After he won the Olympic Games in Beijing, a couple of Chinese volunteers who had been assigned to help the Indian shooting team presented him a greeting card written in Hindi. He says the framed letter now occupies a special place in his home.
On Monday, the director-general, Mr VK Verma's status report on the 36 Functional Areas of the Organising Committee and joint-director-general, Mr VK. Saxena's update on the construction of various competition, training and non-competition venues were well received.
Delhi government's chief secretary, Mr Rakesh Mehta's briefing on how the city administration was spending significant sums on power and water sectors, among others, was praise-worthy. Secretary-general Dr Lalit K Bhanot's annual report and treasurer Mr A K Mattoo's audited statement of accounts were passed and approved unanimously.
In the coming fortnight, the Coordination Commission of the Commonwealth Games Federation will visit Delhi. I am confident that it will find us up to the mark. I am also confident that the citizens are eager to participate in the conduct of the Games. Together with such a strong desire, our commitment to meeting the challenges will ensure that we stage the Games on a grand scale.