Minutes before boarding the bus for the Commonwealth Games Village, a bunch of players representing the host nation looked perplexed, wondering whether they were being made guinea pigs. Especially, after the drama over cleanliness at the Village.
“We have read about the filthy conditions in the Village and don't know what the conditions would be right now after two-three days,” said a player before boarding the bus from the precincts of the YMCA Hostel. He expected that things had improved, but how much, he did not know.
Though the athletes were focussed on the Games and expected a 'best ever' show this October, they thought that living conditions would be as described by the media — 'filthy' and 'unliveable'
However, when they entered the Village all their fears vanished. The team of around 480 players and 250 officials have been given three towers — 29, 30 and 31.
Indian chef de mission, Bhubaneswar Kalita said, 'The Games Village seems in good shape and the facilities are perfect.' He was seconded by Bhupinder Singh, his deputy in the Village, who said till Thursday night 155 players and officials had checked into the village. 'And the players are happy with the facilities.'
The contingents have now buried their fears and are looking forward to Friday, when they will start to get the feel of the stadiums.
Bhawani Mukherjee, the chief national coach of the table tennis team said his squad of 10 (5 players and 5 officials) have been given a five-bedroom apartment. 'The beds are clean so are the bathrooms and it looks nothing like what we had seen on TV,' said Mukherjee. 'We have been practicing in the city for the last five days and are focussing on our practice session tomorrow.'
Dola Banerjee, India's medal hope in archery also said though she had not seen the venue so far, she was happy with the accommodation. So did lawn bowls team member Roopa Rani Tirkey and manager of the team, Anju Luthra. The teams were also exceptionally happy with the catering. Weithlifting gold hope, K Ravi Kumar said, 'We missed lunch today because we were in the process of moving in. Security is very tight, and though we didn't have any trouble, it is very different from before. By the time we got here, we just wanted to eat, and were very pleased with the food and accommodation provided'.
The women's hockey team, which arrived from Patiala on Thursday, echoed the feelings.
'It's nothing like what we saw on TV. Now, we are looking forward to the Games,' said Surinder Kaur, captain of the women's team.