Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland athlete vows Commonwealth Games has to go on

By Frank Brownlow

One of Northern Ireland’s brightest athletics prospects last night said that, as long as personal safety can be guaranteed, the Commonwealth Games should go ahead.

Fears are growing that the Commonwealth Games — due to take place in New Delhi from October 3 to 14 — could be scrapped, especially after yesterday’s collapse of a bridge at the main stadium.

Also, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales team officials yesterday branded facilities and accommodation “unfit for human habitation”.

But 18-year-old Ciara Mageean — who will compete in the 800m and 1500m — has no fears about going to India, especially after taking part in the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games in the country.

“Obviously safety is the number one concern at a major championship. I’ve heard that security will be tight, which is good,” said the Portaferry runner.

“There always seem to be fears coming into major championships that facilities won’t be ready. But I will just focus on the athletics.

“A track is a track, wherever it is. Athletes tend to just worry about their own performances.

“Our own sports facilities in Northern Ireland tend to be a bit behind the rest of the world anyway so I’m not too worried about New Delhi.

“I competed at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India and there were worries that the facilities wouldn’t be ready but it turned out that the facilities were fantastic. The accommodation was lovely. The only thing that wasn’t quite finished was the landscaping but that is not going to affect you.

“I couldn’t complain about the facilities and accommodation in India — they were better than some we’ve used in Europe.

“The Commonwealth Youth Games were held in June, which is further south than Delhi, so we didn’t get to see how the Commonwealth Games facilities were coming on. But as long as the track is okay I will be happy enough.

“Obviously it’s a major championship and you want to perform well,” said the World Junior 1500m silver medallist. “Hopefully everything will be ready but I will just worry about my training and making sure I am ready to compete.

“I have seen the plans for the accommodation and all looked well and hopefully it looks well whenever we get out there.

“Hopefully the food is good — when you go away somewhere you never really know what the food will be like. But as long as there’s pasta, I’ll be happy!

“I’m doing a bit of training as the Games approach and trying to get plenty of rest.

“I will go out and try my best — it would be fantastic to get to a final.”

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