Games lose sheen as several top teams, atheletes missing

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Melbourne, Mar 12 (UNI) In the most unlikely of events, if any of the 10 Indian gymnasts manages to spring a surprise and win a medal in the Commonwealth Games here, the achievement will count for nothing as it will not find any mention in the record books because the International Governing body of sports does not recoganise it as an official event.

The standard of this sport in the Games is so low that International body has refused to recognise it.

Not one participating country figures in the top ten Gymnastic Nations and reason is simple, the event is just not popular.

Gymastic is not the only discipline which lacks international aura, there are several other events in which powerhouses are missing.

The last minute withdrawl by swimming icon Ian Thrope, Grant Hackett, Athens Olympics marathon gold medal woman runner has further dented the popularity of the Games forcing the organisers to launch a campaign to explain the seriousness of the Games.

The media has also stepped up its campaign saying that those who ''Deride the Commonwealth Games as the School Sports are off the mark''.

''The Age'' is strongly supporting the hosting of the Games saying ''there are 71 Nations competing in Melbourne over next two weeks, brought together by an association that might well be considered loose but nevertheless has some historical importance. It is a considerable number and by any standards amount to a major sporting competition.'' There is only one sport here which boasts of five top teams and that is men's hockey, including the Olympic champion hosts Australia and the organisers are confident that large Indian and Pakistani population here will fill the stadium when the two arch rivals play each other or figure in other matches.

Hockey, in both men and women section, is going to be a major draw though Indian women may find it tough to defend their gold which they unexpectedly won at Manchester. Three of the top ten nations are in the fray in the women's section.

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