CWG will change India’s sporting scenario, says Richards

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

New Delhi : India, the world cricket power, will now be known not as a one-sport country but as a major sports loving nation after successfully hosting the Commonwealth Games, West Indies cricket great Vivian Richards has said.

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“This is an enormous event for India. Sport has changed so many things in our life and I am certain that when you have events like this, it is bound to have a big impact on the sporting scenario in India. This event will certainly change India’s image from being a one sport country,” he said.

Richards, here for the Games as a brand ambassador of the 25-member Antigua and Barbuda contingent, says he had no doubts on India’s ability to organise such an extravaganza.

“I first went to Melbourne to in 2006. I totally enjoyed it and this time I wanted to come and enjoy as well. Such Games are important for smaller countries like Antigua and Barbuda and it gives a big platform for the athletes to perform,” Richards told IANS in an interview at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The 58-year-old said he always believed that India will pull through, in spite of delay in getting the facilities ready which led to criticism and doubts about the country’s ability to host a multi-discipline international event since the 1982 Asian Games.

“I had no doubts on India. I used to come here as a cricketer and always enjoyed the enthusiasm and the Indian way for life, in terms of loving and enjoying their sport. I was cent percent sure of India’s ability, specially Delhi,” he said.

Richards was highly impressed with the Oct 3 opening ceremony.

“There were criticisms. They said some things won’t be ready on time. But the opening ceremony suggested that India is ready for the big Games. I was really thrilled to be part of such a big ceremony,” he said.

“Now that the Games have finally started, I think people will enjoy it. In fact, they should enjoy it.”

Asked about his fond memories in Delhi, Richards said: “Delhi will always remain closer to my heart. After all I scored my maiden century (192) in my second Test here on my debut tour in 1974.”

On Antigua and Barbuda’s chances in the Games, Richards said: “It is tough. But what I know from the nature of the Games, this is how you get exposure.”