London 2012: Indian athletes bemoan living conditions in Olympics athletes’ village


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The Independent Online

British athletes weren’t short of complaints about the living conditions in the athletes’ village at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and now managers of this year’s Indian delegation in London have taken their sweet revenge.

Paresh Nath Mukherjee, general secretary of the Archery Association of India, said there isn’t enough room to swing a cat. “If the accommodation at the Commonwealth Games was five-star, on that scale the accommodation here at the Games Village is not even two-star,” he moaned to the Hindustan Times. “With the equipment and everything else kept at one side, there is hardly space to move. The rooms are very cramped. The Village here is absolutely spick and span. But in hindsight, the accommodation at the Commonwealth Games was so much better and even then, we were criticised.”

His glowing review of the Delhi digs will come as a shock to Scottish athletes, who described their base in the Indian capital as “unsafe and unfit for human habitation”. They were moved to a new building, but even then the apartments required "serious cleaning and maintenance". Pictures of the incomplete rooms showed muddy animal paw prints on mattresses and rusty, filth-covered sinks. Swimmers including Liverpudlian gold medal hope Fran Halsall found themselves unable to compete at their best after contracting a stomach bug.

American athletes have brains and brawn

Whenever the National Literacy Trust enlists Premier League footballers to name their favourite books in an effort to make reading cool, the results tend to resemble another annually comoposed list of the books clogging the shelves of charity shops nationwide. Surely following up a Dan Brown tome with a sporting biography is a recipe to put children off reading forever?

So it’s gratifying to find that American track athletes are showing a bit more literary guile. World Champion sprinter Lauryn Williams and middle distance runner Alysia Montano are co-chairing a book club that is currently tackling The History of Love, a novel by Nicole Krauss that was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2006. Their choice of material may be inspired, but ideas for a group name are less so. Suggested ideas include “The Book Club Bookies” and “The Paperback Club”. “We're still working on it,” said Williams.

Westfield woes

It may be a retail Mecca, but the sprawling Westfield shopping complex in Stratford has a long way to go in giving Arabic speakers a proper welcome. Erected in its hangar-like halls are banners proudly proclaiming “welcome to London” in Arabic. Alas, those more conversant in the language than Westfield staff pointed out that the messages translate into English as: “N O D N O L O T E M O C L E W.” Say it quickly, and it perhaps appropriately sounds like “No, not a clue”. Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding said: “It beggars belief they cannot even write 'welcome' in Arabic. What will our Olympic guests be thinking? It is cringeworthy.” Westfield said the banners are “currently being reprinted and will be replaced as soon as possible”.

Sheffield awaits golden post box

Sports stars who win medals at the Olympic Games have it made: Money from sponsorship deals, a nation’s adulation, corporate speaking gigs for daft fees and a guaranteed spot on their choice of Dancing on Ice or Strictly Come Dancing. But Royal Mail have decided to add to these considerable glories by painting red post boxes in their home towns the colour of whatever medal they should win. So if Jessica Ennis bags gold in the heptathlon, Sheffield residents can look forward to depositing their mail into a blingy metallic eyesore. Should Britain triumph in a team event or relay, a dedicated team will slap some paint on a post box near their training base. The first such box was unveiled yesterday in Westminster Abbey, marking the first ever departure from the traditional red hue since 1874.

Olympic flame goes underground

The Olympic flame took a journey on the London Underground yesterday, as the torch was carried by signalman John Light between Wimbledon and Wimbledon Park. Any fears that the torch might be extinguished en route would have been dismissed beforehand by Tube regulars, whose own experiences on the District Line would attest to its painful slowness. Should organisers want more thrills, spills, and third degree burns, a trip on the Central Line between Stratford and Bank at 8.30am might be advised. Reaction on Twitter to the Torch’s latest escapade was a little mute, with users seemingly more enthused by the idea of giving Billy from EastEnders another go.

Oddbins prods brand police

Were a child to wear face paints depicting the Olympic rings, you wouldn’t put it past Locog to despatch a Level 2 consulting brand officer to order their removal with a damp cloth, such are the strict enforcements surrounding the Games logos and trademarks. But now off licence chain Oddbins has called for Olympic officials to descend from their battlements and approach the issue with a bit of common sense. Anyone wearing Nike trainers who has in their pocket a set of Vauxhall car keys, an RBS MasterCard, an iPhone, a bill from British Gas and a receipt for a Pepsi bought at KFC will get 30 per cent off at Oddbins stores. Attempts to locate a sense of humour at Adidas, BMW, Visa, Samsung, EDF Energy, Coke and McDonalds have thus far proved unsuccessful.