Chef De Mission Craig Hunter described his 550-strong Commonwealth Games team as “a great and dynamic England team” this morning as he turned his attention from the “challenges” of preparation to the athletes’ performances and the hunt for medals.
Speaking just a few hours before England’s Commonwealth Games Village official welcome ceremony this evening, he said: “We’ve worked tirelessly in the face of lots of challenges to get the village ready for our athletes, but now is the time to turn to them and their performances.
“This is a great and dynamic England team and I think we’ll go home having made our country proud.”
More than 350 members of the England team from 15 sports have arrived in Delhi with the remaining personnel due over the next few days.
Despite the absence of a number of former champions and major medal hopes Hunter believes the Delhi 2010 England team’s blend of youth and experience will make them a major presence in the medal table.
“The world calendar is full of events,” he said. “We have world and European championships in many sports.
“England is in a unique position because of the London 2012 Olympics. And this is the largest ever team we’ve taken to an overseas Commonwealth Games, and that’s important.
“It’s full of Olympic champions and world champions. Plus lots of sports asked us to bring some of their younger talents to give them experience of a multi-sport event.
“So this team is a combination of champions and younger talents who will gain valuable experience and have the chance to make a name for themselves.”
England currently lie second in the overall Commonwealth Games medal table and finished second behind Australia at both Melbourne 2006 and Manchester 2002. And Hunter expects the team to again be among the strongest in Delhi.
“Clearly India are going to be a real force to reckon with here,” he said. “And Canada have been investing massively in their team.
“But our aim is to be the best we can be. Every nation is a challenge in every event, but I know we’ll figure strongly.
“We’ve been here three weeks and we’ve had virtually no illness and only one or two minor niggles. We’re definitely fit and ready.”