Even as unfinished work at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Complex continued to raise doubts, India's top swimmers were undeterred on Wednesday and promised medals at the Commonwealth Games.
At the National Federation Cup, the test event for the Games, Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal said winning medals was a realistic target.
"We are targeting a top-five position. It is not impossible to get a medal," said Khade after he won the 50-metre butterfly event with a time of 00:25:08.
The two swimmers, under coach Nihar Ameen, have been training in Europe. "We trained in Germany and Spain and are hoping to peak for the Games," said Sejwal. He had earlier won the 50m breaststroke (00:29:15).
Speaking on the advantages of training abroad, Sejwal said, "There are more competitions, almost every weekend. So we train better competing against fitter athletes. Indian swimmers lack strength and experience, otherwise we are at par with the rest of the world."
The complex, redeveloped at a cost of Rs 377 crore, is racing against time to get everything running. Debris and cables at the entrance are an eyesore. Without approach roads, roadblocks around the stadium are a common occurrence. An official at the site said, "Our priority was to finish the swimming pool and the complex. The roads will be done as quickly as possible."
The complex will be handed over on August 31, or within 15-20 days, depending on the completion.
Kamlesh Nanavati, competition manager, said equipment was yet to come in. "Most of the equipment will come by the end of August. So testing isn't possible, which is very important for an aquatics event," he said.
The pool is up to international standards and the field of play is swanky, but small details give the game away. Electronic touch-pads aren't functional, so judges have to manually activate timers. Scoreboards are nowhere close to completion. Furniture, provided by the logistics departments, will be carted away once the event ends. And the changing rooms were prepared a day before the event. The media room has no Internet access or phone connectivity as cables are still being laid.
As for the home advantage, Khade said training at the venue would not have helped. "There is always a surprise factor in every competition. A new atmosphere makes a big difference. So it's always better if you train at another place and race elsewhere," he said.