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Dame Mary Peters: I don’t want Northern Ireland to pull out of Commonwealth Games

Olympic golden girl Dame Mary Peters last night urged Northern Ireland’s athletes to go and compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Fears have been growing that the Games — due to start on Sunday week — could be scrapped in the wake of a string of problems, including the collapse of a stadium bridge and roof as well as issues with accommodation other facilities.

But Dame Mary — who has three Commonwealth Games gold medals — is confident the event will proceed.

“I think the Commonwealth Games will go ahead because the plug can’t be pulled at this late stage,” said Dame Mary, whose Olympic gold came in the pentathlon in Munich 1972, Games that were overshadowed by the murder of 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and officials by terrorists.

“Munich was an awful tragedy and you cannot take unnecessary risks but I know our team officials will be very aware of any security difficulties and will monitor the situation,” added Dame Mary.

“We might get a situation where some countries decide not to send their athletes but I think the Games will go ahead.

“I have no doubt our athletes will go to Delhi and represent us with great pride. And I think they should go. Hopefully they will be able to go out to India and compete without any stress or strain.

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“Before every big event you get the stories about facilities not being ready. I would be concerned if I had an athlete going, if the facilities are as bad as they have been described.

“But I know that our officials would not allow our athletes to live in the conditions that have been described because it would be putting their health in danger which of course is the most important thing.

“I’m sure there are plenty of positive things about the Games.”

Dame Mary feels the Commonwealth Games still have a vital role to play in the modern sporting world.

“For any young athlete the Commonwealth Games are a wonderful opportunity,” said Dame Mary.

“If I hadn’t gone to the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958 I may not have stayed in the sport. I enjoyed those Games so much that I ended up going on to compete in four more.”

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