It created a flutter when they ‘discovered’ a snake in one of their rooms in the Games Village. But now the South African contingent has put fear behind and settled into a regular routine of training sessions and briefings. The athletes moved into the Village on Tuesday, after spending a day at a five-star hotel.
The camaraderie among the players was visible on Thursday when most of them were put through their paces at the training venues. According to chef de mission, Patience Shikwambana, the team has settled down and is happy at the Village. “The mood here is positive,” she said. After the flag hoisting ceremony on Wednesday, the players now feel like a part of the country.
The Proteas netball captain, Liezel Wium, also echoed the sentiments. The 33-year-old is one of the most experienced players in the side and is gearing up to face the tough Delhi heat. Her team will be up against England in its first pool match at the Thyagaraj Complex. The netball team trained there on Wednesday and Wium said, “The ground is excellent. We also went to the practice venues in Delhi University and they exceeded our expectations.”
Netball in South Africa commands the largest following among women. And with men, it is second only behind football. Wium said her team's aim was to better its previous record, when it finished seventh in Melbourne. “Realistically, if we can beat England, then we can aim for a medal,” she said.
Olympic gold-medallist, Steve Hooker, the defending champion here, will also be jumping for glory. Having won at Beijing with a jump of 5.96m, the Australian pole-vaulter, however, will be satisfied with 5.81m. He said. “I don't think I can clear my best. It's been a really long year and I am tired,” he said.
The day also saw a busy International Zone as 16 countries hoisted their flags. For India, the Tri-colour will be hoisted on Friday afternoon with most of its players to be present for the occasion.
India’s chef de mission, Bhubaneswar Kalita, addressing the media, said that the aim was to finish second in the medals tally, which would be their best-ever finish. India had finished fourth both in Manchester (2002) and Melbourne (2006).