Belfast Telegraph

Delhi gets thumbs up from Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games team

By Nigel Ringland

Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games athletes have been getting themselves acquainted to the place they will call home for the next few weeks and have given the impression that the controversy over the state of the facilities in Delhi has been overhyped.

A spokesperson for Team NI says the athletes that have made the trip already — some don’t arrive until tomorrow — are happy with all that has been made available to them in terms of accommodation and training.

“The facilities are better than has been reported and are satisfactory — minor plumbing work (is needed) but that's all and the team are well settled and visiting their training venues etc.

“Food is top class and the international, residential and training facilities are great.”

The team arrived at their accommodation in the village on Tuesday and according to Chef de Mission Robert McVeigh, “The team of 66 athletes arrived so far have settled in well along with their coaches and management.

“They are enjoying village life and were able to train at their competition venues today. They are getting used to everything that goes with a multi-sport Games such as transport, climate and venues.

“We look forward to welcoming the other fifteen athletes arriving on Friday.”

Those include Olympic cycling silver medalist Wendy Houvenaghel and her team mates David McCann and Heather Wilson as well as medal hope in squash Madeline Perry.

However Stephen Scullion (1500m/5000m) has had to withdraw from the team on medical advice while in cycling, Sean Downey of Banbridge replaces Connor McConvey who previously withdrew with severe fatigue.

While their team mates settle into village life in Delhi the athletes are in Portugal this week at a warm weather holding camp before travelling to the Indian capital tomorrow.

It’s a young side determined to perform well but with the focus on Glasgow in 2014.

For the first time the province has qualified a women’s 4x400m relay squad and the quartet have high hopes of reaching the final.

They’ve already proved they can run fast with a time of 3:38 at the Antrim Forum in August that was only a second and a half outside the Northern Ireland record.

It was that performance that booked their places on the trip.

Jo Patterson, Christine McMahon, Joanna Mills, all three from Ballymena and Antrim AC and Katie Kirk coached by former Commonwealth Games athlete, Mark at Lagan Valley, make up the young team.

Patterson will also run the individual 400m along with Mills and Kirk while McMahon is a 400m hurdler.

“The holding camp this week has been very important not just for the training but also as a way to relax.

“The other three girls have been at school and I’ve been at Uni and so this week we’ve been able to focus towards the Games and what we want to achieve,” explained Patterson.

Northern Ireland Athletics have targeted the relay for future success and assistant coach Davy Reid is expecting big things.

“The team should make the final, and in setting a national record in the final it should provide a platform to develop and enhance the squad for 2014 in Glasgow,” he said.

“A four-year programme using the relay as an event in itself could establish the women’s 4x400m as one of our successful events.”

Belfast Telegraph

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