Glasgow 2014: The sporting legacy of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAt the 2010 velodrome, gates are padlocked and washing is hanging near the entrance

As the Queen's Baton Relay leaves the Indian city which staged the last Commonwealth Games, I have returned to Delhi to assess what sporting legacy has been left.

Think of sport in this country and there is only one discipline which usually springs to mind.

Cricket is not the national sport, that's hockey, but it is the national obsession.

The India players are paid vast amounts and there is significant money for development within the sport.

Like any discipline, the elite athletes are cultivated at the grass roots and in a small park in a residential part of Delhi, I observe four groups of friends playing matches.

This is not an unusual sight and although it is just a knockabout it is taken seriously.

While less than 1% of the population participates in sport, some disciplines have seen an increase since the 2010 games.

Seeing people running was a rarity 10 years ago but in the big parks it is now more common.

'Crazy guy'

Ravinder Singh, founder of the Run With Me Foundation, told me: "People used to see someone running and say 'he is a crazy guy who is running, what is he going to get from running?'.

"Now people are supporting us with hydration energy drinks, bananas and apples when we are running in the streets.

"I was associated with so many numbers of running groups in Delhi and around and I have seen the passion of running in the participants and running groups and it is growing leaps and bounds."

Image caption Cricket remains a national obsession in India

Academics say sport has been prioritised by local and national governments in India over recent decades.

The University of Delhi now has an Institute of Physical Educational and Sports Science, the only one in the country.

It received grants directly attributed to the Commonwealth Games.

Dr Devinder Kumar Kansal, head of the institute, said: "There was less awareness and there was very meagre participation and now the people are considering that sports should be for all, maybe for competition, maybe for lifestyle. So all these things have been boosted.

"This institute also got enough grants for developing its sports science labs, for its gymnasium.

"Physiotherapy and all other things have been boosted after the Commonwealth Games."

Of course the embarrassment factor brought about by problems preceding the games will not go away and some of those continue with its legacy.


The large velodrome was specially constructed for hosting cycling and it has been left unused.

Padlocks sit around the gates, there are peeling signs bearing the games logo and a washing line hangs between the trees containing the clothes of, presumably, the security guards.

Cycling as a sport is not popular and nobody has thought to convert it for another use.

The business community does its bit for participation in the city and elsewhere.

Sanjiv Paul, managing director of Tata Metaliks and chairman of the sports committee for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci), explained: "Because of the mining industry, because of the steel plant, it does create disruption in the society it exists in.

"Sports, as part of the social responsibility programme of Tata Steel, was a way of getting accepted into society, it was a way of breaking into the hearts of people.

"Ficci, through its various industries that are part of this chamber, promotes that even in the rural areas.

"I know for sure that Tata Steel does it in more than 600-odd villages, they have programmes running on sports.

"So there is a lot of grassroots activity going on in the country, post the Commonwealth Games and in fact before that as well."

Although participation in sport here remains small, most agree that progress is being made and that Delhi 2010 was the catalyst.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites