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Inspired Indians dazzle

New Delhi ÔÇô SASCOC President Gideon Sam described Sunday evening’s Commonwealth Games opening as one of the best he has ever seen.

‘What a cultural display by people who are not shy to showcase their culture to the world,’ said Sam. ‘Well done India. It ranks with one of the best that I have seen.’

Sam generally has been impressed with what he has seen at the Athlete’s Village, from accommodation, to food and hygiene. The warmth of the locals has also made a huge impact.

‘There are so many similarities to what was written before South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup and what has happened here in New Delhi. We, as South Africans, refused to accept the situation without seeing for ourselves and we have always given our commitment to India. This wonderful opening ceremony vindicates our stance and attitude. I am convinced the Games will prove as successful and I am particularly pleased to be here.’

SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy echoed similar sentiments, saying the best qualities of Indian culture were showcased to the world.

‘This was a highly organized event. It was well co-coordinated and all the teams looked good. India showed the Commonwealth and indeed the World that they can organize and organize well. The logistical arrangement were also top class,’ said Reddy.

Team South Africa squad members said the experience had exceeded expectations, as indeed had all their experiences since arriving in New Delhi. SA flag bearer Cameron van der Burg described the night as one of his career highlights.

Some 100 000 security personnel have been deployed in the Indian capital for the duration of the Games, which start with swimming on Monday morning. Around 80 000 people on duty have been reinforced by 17 000 paramilitary troops to counter the danger of an attack by extremists.

Prince Charles represented the Queen at the ceremony and took his seat at the stadium alongside Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.