An hour to go before the day one afternoon finals session at the Dr SP Mukherjee Aquatics Complex yesterday, a 20-strong SWAT team were positioned outside the main gate and the traffic was logjammed up and down the length of Mother Teresa Crescent. Hostilities were about to open in the most meaningful sporting battle in the 2010 Delhi variation on the quadrennial gathering commonly known as the Friendly Games.
In fact, these XIX Commonwealth Games have already got a bit too friendly for two young officers from the Delhi Police Force. They have been suspended after being found in a cupboard at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in what the Mid Day newspaper described yesterday as "a compromising position".
Up the road at the Games pool, in the opening skirmishes between the swimming might of Australia and the would-be Britannic wave-rulers competing for England, Scotland and Wales, there was defeat for Napoleon, though not a sinking without trace. Competing for Australia after the lifting of a three-month suspension for using a banned asthma-easing product, Ryan Napoleon emerged with a silver medal from the final of the 400m freestyle, finishing runner-up to Ryan Cochrane of Canada.
By the close of play on day one of what might be called the Splashes, though, Australia were leading the British nations 3-0 in the gold medal stakes. There were five medals for the Brits: two silvers for England and one for Wales, plus a bronze each for England and Scotland. The Midas touch, however, has yet to arrive.
At least Rebecca Adlington arrived, although such is the long jam of Delhi traffic and the distance from the athletes' village to the pool, the double Olympic champion was up at 5.15am to ensure she would make it in time for the start of the morning heats at 8.30am. "The buses take 45 minutes to get here and you spend most of your day on them due to the traffic," she said. "Ours got lost today and it took an hour."
Still, Mansfield's finest found herself ahead of schedule on her Commonwealth Games debut, storming through from seventh to snatch the bronze medal in the 200m freestyle. "To come away with a medal from an event I'm really not that good at is a big bonus for me," the Olympic 400m and 800m freestyle champion said.
It was England's first medal of the Games but not the first won by a Briton. Touching the wall 0.18sec ahead of Adlington, to claim silver behind the victorious Kyle Palmer of Australia, was Jazz Carlin of Wales – Jazmin Roxy Carlin, to use her full name. "I'm really chuffed," the 20-year-old said. "It's been so long since a Welshwoman won a medal." Indeed. It was the first Commonwealth swimming medal won by a Welshwoman since Pat Beavan triumphed in the 200m breaststroke in Christchurch in 1974.
Scotland's first medal of this year's Games came in the second final, the men's 400m freestyle, David Carry taking bronze behind Cochrane and Napoleon in one of the two events he won in Melbourne in 2006. There were also silvers for England's Michael Rock in the 200m butterfly and for the English 4x100m relay quartet of Simon Burnett, Liam Tancock, Grant Turner and Adam Brown.
The pigeons fluttering in the rafters during the morning heats, watched by the Prince of Wales, were gone by the afternoon finals. They had left their mark, though, in an arena that remained less than half-full. Their droppings could be found on the press benches – as a greeting to those who were scrawling in pidgin English, perhaps.
Delhi diary: what to watch
9.00am A not-so-trivial pursuit
England's cyclists Anna Blyth and Laura Trott are in the women's 500m time trial along with Wales' Becky James. Then, provided they have made it through their 7am heats, watch George Atkins and Erick Rowsell of England and Sam Harrison of Wales compete in the individual pursuit final at 10.40am.
11.30am Return of the record-breaker
World record holder Liam "Golden Tan" Tancock competes in the men's 50m backstroke final at 11.34am and is in with a great chance of gold.
12.00am Cairns going for gold
The England artistic team are considered among the top contenders for the medals in the gymnastics this lunchtime. One to look out for is 21-year-old Imogen Cairns. An individual gold winner in Melbourne 2006, she was also a member of the silver-winning artistic team. Heats are between 9am and 11am, while the final gets under way at 12pm.
TV: 8-11am, 1-2.15pm, BBC2. 11am-1pm, 2.15-5pm, BBC1. Highlights: 7pm BBC 2. Additional coverage on BBCi.Reuse content