BBC BLOGS - Matthew Pinsent

Archives for October 2010

What will Commonwealth legacy mean for Indian sport?

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Matthew Pinsent | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

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The Commonwealth Games have come to an end and, despite the usual end-of-event tiredness, I'll be sorry to depart India. 

It has as ever been a privilege to cover a multi-sport event and it is a position and an opportunity that I don't ever want to get bored with.

I was sent out to see the very first event and was there to see India’s Saina Nehwal step off the court having won the women's singles badminton title. Fittingly, India’s final gold medal propelled them past England on the medals table - a massive achievement for the hosts.

The best realistic legacy that I can hope for is that the Commonwealth Games of 2010 mark the emergence of India as a power at future big sporting events.

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Can England overhaul India in medals table?

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Matthew Pinsent | 09:55 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

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Maybe it's the second-week blues, perhaps it's because my only direct comparison for the Commonwealth Games is with the Olympics but it seems hard to shake the idea that the home nations are not going to finish in Delhi on a high.

As of Monday morning, there were still 79 nine gold medals to be decided, out of a total of 272 spread across the four remaining days.

There is still plenty of scope to change the medal tally but I'm not sure that England are going to keep their almost-traditional second placing, behind runaway leaders Australia.

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Squash makes case for Olympic inclusion

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Matthew Pinsent | 09:03 UK time, Saturday, 9 October 2010

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On the face of it squash, like so many of the racquet sports, seems a cordial and genteel way of spending an hour but, in reality, it is really a vicious sporting encounter.

There is scope to bully your opponent, shout at the officials with seeming impunity and it would certainly challenge any of the sports taking place in Delhi to be the sweatiest - despite being held in the air-conditioned hall of the Siri Fort Complex.

At some points the gladiators stand at the back of the court and exchange strokes of enormous speed and power but in an instant they are darting forward, lunging like fencers, arms fully straight front legs fully folded to reach some of the deft touch shots.

After Peter Barker won the bronze medal on Friday afternoon, an England sweep was assured in the men's singles with Nick Matthew and James Willstrop in the gold-medal match.

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Watching with the Adlingtons

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Matthew Pinsent | 17:35 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

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Only parents know the feeling - whether it's school sports day or the Olympic Games, it is stomach-wrenching to watch your offspring compete.

For competitors, all the nerves fall away as the event begins, but for the parents the butterflies turn to birds and then the birds turn to eagles.

My own parents were assiduous in attending Olympic Games and World Championships but it wasn't rare to find them absolutely shattered in the grandstands afterwards. I might have been ecstatic but they were just drained.

When I met up with Steve and Kay Adlington at their hotel at lunchtime on Wednesday, they were upbeat but all too aware of the challenge facing their daughter Rebecca.

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Photos tell crowd story

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Matthew Pinsent | 16:33 UK time, Wednesday, 6 October 2010

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It has been a nagging theme in the first three days of the Commonwealth Games that the number of spectators at events has been very low.

While reports, and indeed my own experience, of low numbers have been passed on to the organising committee, they generally have not seemed unduly concerned and have continually replied that spectator numbers are increasing.

The OC chairman, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, has even claimed that there have been queues of spectators at all the venues, a feature either unnoticed or unreported by the media in Delhi.

With the mission to try to evaluate the state of spectator numbers and ticket sales on day three of the Games I went to the OC's media conference on Wednesday morning to ask whether they had seen any change in demand for tickets.

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India clinch first gold in test of nerves

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Matthew Pinsent | 11:05 UK time, Tuesday, 5 October 2010

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Day two of the quest for a host gold medal starts early so that we can be at the shooting venue for a 9am start.

Weaving through rush-hour traffic is pretty stressful at the best of times but the Games lanes have been pretty effective at keeping the automotive tide back from the main routes to the venues.

Relative to the capital's surge of commuters, the peace of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range is startling as the competitors carefully lay out their rifles, ammunition and clocks.

The pairs final is a 60-shot effort from each competitor, the scores tallied with their partners' to yield a team total. Any shot catching the very centre of the target scores 10 and if it's marginally wide it marks a nine. Anything less than a nine is almost unheard of at this level.

India are strong favourites with defending Commonwealth champions Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang.

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Waiting for India's first gold medal

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Matthew Pinsent | 15:49 UK time, Monday, 4 October 2010

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At the last three big events I've attended as a BBC reporter, I've been given the job of tracking the first gold medal for the host nation.

In Beijing, I was off to the shooting to see if world and defending 2004 Olympic champion Du Li could get the Chinese off to a flyer in the 10m rifle. She couldn't and later confessed to feeling that the crowd put pressure on her rather than urging her on.

At the Vancouver Winter Olympics, Canada's athletes put in a fantastic performance, finishing top of the medal table. But that was by the end of the Games - they had to wait until day three before the floodgates could be prised apart by Alexandre Bilodeau in the men's moguls.

There was an added sense of history given that in their two previous home Games - in Montreal in 1976 and Calgary 1988 - not one single Canadian had won gold. Bilodeau simply said: "I'm happy to get the party started."

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Welcome to the village

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Matthew Pinsent | 16:39 UK time, Sunday, 3 October 2010

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My last assignment before the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony has been a filming trip inside the athletes' village.

I was shown round the Welsh quarters by Michaela Breeze who is hoping to bow out from her distinguished weightlifting career by lifting the gold in the 63kg category and, like most of the athletes now arriving for the Delhi experience, I was pleasantly surprised by the village.

It's not the best I've seen in terms of villages (at Olympics both winter and summer) and if you just had the keys handed to you by the builders you'd be scribbling down a snagging list as long as your arm.

But - and it is a very big but - the transformation in the last weeks has been nothing short of spectacular.

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