Saturday, 10 October 2009

CWG2010: Heat and humidity a big concern

It was a melting 35 degrees in Delhi India yesterday as Canadian Commonwealth Games officials spoke to the media. The humidity debuted at day a sweltering 65 per cent and the pollution was chewier than it was for the Beijing Olympics, says Dr. Jon Kolb.

A year from now at this the time, Canadians along with sportsperson from 70 other countries will be performing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games - all but overlooked in the euphoria over the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver and Whistler.

If Canada's summer team was in Delhi yesterday, the humidex - the measure of heat discomfort with which Canadian are familiar - would have read 50: the accompanying warning is that no physical work should be undertaken without medical supervision.

"Some teams have set out pre-Games camps, using the information they got from the Beijing Olympics," says Dr. Jon Kolb, a Calgary-based doctor who was the Canadian Olympic Committee's specialist on pollution and climate for the Beijing Olympics.

"We're building on that information. For instance, Swimming Canada had a training camp in Singapore before the Beijing Games. That's something they'll do again. And I understand Australia and New Zealand are planning the same."

Kolb will do the same kind of analysis of the weather and pollution and environmental considerations for the Commonwealth Games this time. That's become the new responsibility for Canada's sports administrators - having Canadian athletes who can perform on a year-round basis in different hemispheres - a summer shift and a winter shift.

One reason is to prepare for the heat load and the other to get the body clock ready for a transition to a place half the world away. For instance, Toronto is 9 hours 30 minutes behind Delhi.

"The challenge is to be in the time zone two weeks in advance and to prepare for the heat load," Kolb said.

The weather is something they cannot control, but for which they can at least prepare. That's not the same as other factors surrounding Games preparation.

Delegates from the 71 countries and states formerly associated with Britain as colonies or protectorates inspected venues and facilities this week, as concerns became public over Delhi's preparations.

Some 6,000 athletes from the Commonwealth nations could be at 17 venues, including the world's fastest sprinter Usain Bolt (Video: 100 m world record performance) and Asafa Powell (Video: Powell's Gold winning performance @ Melbourne CWG)

"Delegates will visit the athletes' village and various venues and will then hold their general assembly on Monday."

On their part, Canadians - who were Commonwealth hosts at Hamilton, Vancouver, Edmonton and Victoria - are willing to help out in areas where they have expertise, such as transportation.

The Canadian team will have security input from The RCMP, CSIS and federal foreign affairs consultants.

"We've been assessing the readiness of the games. In days ahead we will be visiting sites and expressing views. We will be thoughtful but also forceful," said Dr. Andrew Pipe, president of Commonwealth Games Canada.

Scott Stevenson, director of sport for the CGC said the performance level of Canadians at Delhi will be important in measuring the ability to produce a medal in London.

The Commonwealth Games body has tried to make performance at its Games relevant for Own the Podium officials. Canada usually finishes in the top three at the Commonwealth Games, with Australia and England, but India could move past at a home Games in a climate that's familiar and at a point on the calendar when Canada's summer season is over.


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