COMMONWEALTH GAMES 2010: I'm happy to be a slumdog, says Tour de France star Cavendish

Count me in: Cavendish says he will definitely be in Delhi

Count me in: Cavendish says he will definitely be in Delhi

Mark Cavendish gave the beleaguered Commonwealth Games a much-needed boost when he confirmed that, barring injury in this week's world road race championships in Melbourne, he will definitely be in Delhi aiming to add to his gold medal of four years ago.

Earlier this summer Cavendish, the 25-year-old Manxman, took his Tour de France tally to 15 stage victories, cementing his place as one of cycling's top sprinters.

Now, along with double Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington and teenage diving world champion Tom Daley, Cavendish is the biggest British name left at these depleted Games.

With the opening in seven days' time, Jessica Ennis, Chris Hoy, Mo Farah, Beth Tweddle, Christine Ohuruogo and Victoria Pendleton have all decided to give Delhi a miss.

Former Commonwealth diving champion Peter Waterfield withdrew on Friday night, fearing the threat of contracting dengue fever.

Earlier in the week, English cyclists Ben Swift and Ian Stannard, as well as Wales's medal hopeful Geraint Thomas, New Zealand world champion Greg Henderson and Cavendish's own team-mate from the Isle of Man, Peter Kennaugh, all announced their non-participation in the Games, citing security and health reasons as reports of filthy and unhygienic accommodation in the athletes' village were followed by fears of an outbreak of mosquito-borne disease.

But Cavendish says he has not been fazed by either the continuing problems that have dominated the countdown to the Games or the withdrawal of some of his colleagues.

Mucking in: Indian labourers scramble to complete last minute preparations for the upcoming Games

Mucking in: Indian labourers scramble to complete last minute preparations for the upcoming Games

'The only way I won't be coming to Delhi is if I get injured here in Australia,' Cavendish insisted last night.

'I particularly like competing at the Games because it gives me the chance to represent the Isle of Man, and this only ever happens every four years.

'I know about the withdrawals of some of the cyclists, and I understand their reasons, but I am very proud to have a Commonwealth gold medal back home and I'd like to get another one in a few days' time.'

Sack race: The opening ceremony is just seven days away

Sack race: The opening ceremony is just seven days away

Cavendish took the Commonwealth scratch race gold on the Melbourne track in 2006 and will come to India looking to add a Commonwealth gold medal in the road race on the back of what he hopes will be a successful world championships.

'I'm looking forward to it very much and will arrive in Delhi expecting to win gold,' he said.

'There may be a few problems concerning the Games right now but you don't get many chances to win medals like these so I'll be there.'

Amid all the furore in Delhi, English sportsmen actually played some sport yesterday. The English men's hockey team, who made up 16 of the first batch of 28 competitors who arrived in India's capital on Friday morning, held their first training session inside the National Hockey Stadium and reported their satisfaction with their run-out.

The team are staying in a plush city centre hotel before moving into newly cleaned apartments in the village tomorrow and, after yesterday's practice session, forward Simon Mantell said: 'It was great to be out on a hockey pitch, not just because we were able to stretch our legs after a long flight, but also to get our minds off any of the off-pitch problems.

'All the talk has been about the state of the village so it was good to focus on actually playing some hockey.'

Staying at home: World champion Phillips Idowu withdrew earlier this week

Staying at home: World champion Phillips Idowu withdrew earlier this week

The controversy that has engulfed the 'Friendly Games' may have eased with the claim from the organisers that the worst of the crisis is over, but yesterday the two men at the head of the organisation clashed in public over who should take the blame.

Any attempt to appear united in the face of diversity was blown to pieces as Mike Fennell, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, rounded on Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Games Organising Committee, and effectively condemned the host nation for the mess the Games have found themelves in.

His adversary attempted to blame developers and other outside agencies, ignoring the fact that Delhi has had seven years to ensure that every aspect of the 19th Commonwealth Games would be ready in time for next Sunday's opening ceremony. Kalmadi, the president of the Indian Olympic Committee, was also subjected to a storm of anger from around 30 team chiefs from the 71 participating countries who held a two-hour crisis meeting with the Games chief on Friday.

One witness to the clash said: 'Matters became extremely fiery. The team chiefs were very aggressive towards Kalmadi, especially those from England, Australia and Wales.'

Their mood was no doubt worsened by the fact that many of them had ended up personally cleaning some of the worst conditions in the village where rooms had been inundated by water from last week's monsoon rains and fouled by stray dogs and labourers alike.

Fennell, the head of the Jamaican Olympic Committee, admitted that there were still issues to be resolved within the unfinished athletes' village, even though most of the competitors are due to move in early this week. He also claimed to have reservations still about the safety and security of the athletes.

'This has been an unfortunate and unsatisfactory situation,' he said, as Kalmadi sat just feet away from him.

'A massive amount of work should have been done before now and we are concerned that the new-found momentum of the past few days must be sustained throughout the whole period of the Games.

'There is no question that a great deal of work still needs to be done. The water in the basements of the buildings is proving difficult to remove and I have great concern for the safety and security of athletes and officials. I will monitor the situation on a daily basis.'

Asked if he believed India had let down the Commonwealth Games, Fennell said: 'Yes, we're disappointed with a number of issues concerning India. We couldn't bring our athletes into this mess and I'm very sad that this work has not been done better. A lot of damage has been done to India as a host country.

'India is the largest country in the Commonwealth and it is absolutely right that the Games should have come here but after what has happened, we are learning a great deal about what it is like working with a country like India.'

Kalmadi accepted his share of blame but added: 'We were not involved for a long time. It was the constructors. 'This was not my responsibility. Monitoring the situation was my responsibility. Everything will be OK and our aim is to make these Games at least as good as Melbourne four years ago.'

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