Time to forget Delhi's disasters and focus on sporting matters
The 19th staging of the 'friendly games' has been beset by problems as organisers in Delhi combat the threat of terrorism, the outbreak of dengue fever and their own sub-standard preparations.
One of the biggest sporting events in the world has been reduced to stories of organisers deploying trained monkeys to guard world class athletes from wild animals infesting the athletes village.
There are anomolees in the above sentence, and it has nothing to do with monkeys.
For the Commonwealth Games is losing its grip on claims it is among the most prestigious events on the calendar as a clutch of world class athletes turn their back.
The fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt, has stayed home, as has Jessica Ennis, the current golden girl of British athletics raised right here in Sheffield.
Ennis has world and European, indoor and outdoor, gold medals to her name but will not pursue a Commonwealth title.
Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe are missing while Phillips Idowu was the first high profile athlete to withdraw due to the safety concerns.
Caster Semenya, the controversial world 800m champion, is the latest to pull out.
Many, like Ennis, have stayed home because of the timing of the event, coming so late in the season it disrupts their preparation for the start of the 2011 campaign.
So it is with a degree of gratitude on the part of the organisers, that the swimmers are at least taking the Commonwealth Games, which begin with Sunday night's opening ceremony and get underway for real on Monday, seriously.
They may begin just two months after their own European Championships, and eat considerably into their training cycle for next year's world championships and the London Olympics that are very much on British athletes minds.
But, encouragingly for the reputation of the downtrodden games, 66 British swimmers will start the flow of competitive juices on Monday morning in the colours of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Bidding to turn negative headlines about the problems in Delhi to positive bulletins about gold medals are Rebecca Adlington, Liam Tancock and Gemma Spofforth, who as Olympic champions and world record holders are some of the country's most high-profile athletes. The latter of that trio, Spofforth, goes into the Games as a world record holder, but by no means favourite to take gold in the 100m and 200m backstroke.
Her rival is her good friend Lizzie Simmonds, the 19-year-old from Beverley whose steady rise through the major finals from Beijing to Rome culminated in a gold-medal winning swim against Spofforth in the 200m final at the European Championships in Budapest two months ago.
"It'd be absolutely brilliant to get a Commonwealth gold," said the Loughborough University student who also claimed a silver medal, behind Spofforth – three years her senior – in the 100m European final.
"It's going to be a fantastic experience in Delhi. This year has been a little different to others, we're usually on winter training by now looking forward to next season, but this year we've trained through the summer because the Commonwealth Games mean so much to the swimmers. Everybody in the back of their mind has their thoughts on London 2012. But there are a lot of stepping stone meets; Euros, Commonwealth Games, worlds next year, so you've got to ignore the fact you've got a major one coming up in a couple of years and focus on each individual meet.
"I'm keeping fingers crossed that no-one gets sick and we're able to deal with the change in cultures, but I'm just going in with no expectation, to enjoy the experience as I did in Budapest, and hopefully that will help me come out with the same result."
Simmonds's progress has been encouraging. She was a finalist in Beijing and then in Rome at the world championships last summer, increasing her position on each occasion.
Spofforth broke the world record in the world 100m final – albeit in a now outlawed polyurethane suit – but Simmonds began to get the better of Spofforth at the British Championships in Sheffield in March, touching the line first in the elder swimmer's favoured 100m. Spofforth struck back in Budapest before Simmonds responded with victory in the 200m.
It is a rivalry that bears all the hallmarks of the Adlington-Jo Jackson dual in the freestyle which began with Adlington's double gold feat in Beijing and continued in Rome last year when Northallerton's Jackson enjoyed a better world championships.
Simmonds said: "I can only speak for myself, but to have the world record holder next to you in races it's never going get any better, or scarier, than that.
"I've had to cope with that for two years and even when you're just at a trials at Sheffield it's like you're in a major meet because you've got the world champion in the next lane.
"It's really inspiring. We're great friends outside of the pool. Everyone expects us to have a big rivalry, they keep asking us both 'do you stare each other out in the hotel?' and I'm like 'no, we just catch up on gossip from the rest of the year'.
"Neither of us are the kind of people who sit there in a bubble before the race. Obviously when we're in the pool it's another competitor and it doesn't matter who they are or where they're from."
Jackson competes against City of Leeds freestyler Anne Bochmann, 17, while Rotherham's Joe Roebuck contests the individual medleys.
City of Bradford's Sian Morgan, 16, represents Wales while Middlesbrough's Aimee Wilmott, Rotherham's Becki Turner and Dewsbury's Kate Hutchinson are also competing in Delhi.
BADMINTON GIRLS READY TO SPRING A FEW SURPRISES IN BID FOR UNEXPECTED MEDALS
BRITAIN'S best bet for a medal outside the traditional venues of the track and the pool in Delhi over the next fornight could come on the badminton court, in the shape of the young and exciting Leeds duo of Gabby White and Jenny Wallwork
White, who turned 20 yesterday, and Wallwork, 23, have spent the last two years touring the world as a ladies doubles partnership and arrived in the Indian capital with genuine optimism that they can ruffle a few feathers.
With the traditional badminton superpowers of Korea and China not in action, the Commonwealth Games provide ample opportunity for White and Wallwork to sample the pressure of competing at the sharp end of a major tournament before the focus shifts to London 2012.
"The target for us is to get to a medal stage and hopefully bring home as many medals for England as we can," stated White.
"It's a realistic aim. We're a young pair, we're confident, we're hungry and we've caused upsets before.
"We would probably have to play the best we have ever played together to win a medal, but in major competitions, that's how it should be."
White's belief stems from her partnership with Wallwork, who was born in Bolton but raised in Leeds, and now lives near White close to the national squad's base in Milton Keynes.
"Jenny is really experienced and it's a privelege to play with her," said White, who will partner Chris Adock in the mixed doubles while Wallwork teams up with former Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson.
"You've got to be open and honest in a partnership. If it's going to be successful you have to have the confidence to say that something is wrong with your partner's game and you have to be able to take it the way it is meant if they point something out about your game.
"When you have a good relationship it's easier to talk about what needs improving.
"Gabby and I like playing the best pairs because that helps the development of your game.
"We are playing well together at the minute and hopefully we can upset a few teams."
White was fast-tracked into the England fold at an early age. She followed her elder sister to her club and was soon spotted by the national selectors.
"I've had plenty of experience but the Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly the biggest event I've competed in," she said.
"I want to go out there and not let the nerves get the better of me."