Melbourne, Sep 28 : Controversial South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya is likely to compete in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
Organisers are hoping Semenya will add glamour to the track event already decimated by the pull-outs of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Phillips Idowu, David Rudisha and John Steffensen.
Organisers will be buoyed by the 800m world champion's recovery from a back injury that threatened to derail her campaign.
"She is still coming to India," Semenya's coach, Michael Seme, told a newspaper. "She has some back pain, but we are still preparing for the Commonwealth Games. The time for preparation has been very short, but she will still be in Delhi."
The Games could ill afford the loss of Semenya. With a long list of high-profile absentees and more security- and health-related withdrawals potentially on the horizon, she will be among the Games' biggest drawcards. The intrigue surrounding her comeback from a gender investigation dominated the European track season and, despite inconsistent results that led to her ranking slipping to fifth, her appearance in New Delhi has been eagerly anticipated not least by television rights-holders lamenting the Games' dwindling star power.
Seme previously sparked fears that Semenya might not appear in New Delhi when he told reporters on Monday "her back has been troubling her in training".
"She will see a doctor today or tomorrow, and based on what he tells us we will decide whether or not she will compete," he added.
But Seme was much more upbeat regarding her prospects of running in Delhi yesterday. "She is still training for the Commonwealth Games," he said.
Meanwhile, Australia's chef de mission Steve Moneghetti expressed confidence his team would not be affected by further withdrawals, despite suggestions of unease among a number of athletes within the swimming and cycling teams.
Australia's security personnel have severely restricted the movement of athletes prior to and during the Games excursions outside the athletes' village, training areas and competition venues are all but banned and those who have arrived have spoken positively of the safety arrangements.
"We are very strong on knowing the whereabouts of athletes," Moneghetti said. "It's fair to say most of their time will be spent in the athletes' village, training or competing."
Lawn bowler Lynsey Armitage conceded she had been "apprehensive about coming to India," but was now satisfied "security is top notch."
And cyclist Anna Meares told reporters upon arrival in Delhi yesterday she had no hesitation in making the trip to India, despite the recent withdrawal of track teammate Travis Meyer and the reservations expressed by defending road race gold medallist Mathew Hayman.
"For me there was no other choice," Meares said. "I was coming for sure. A third opportunity to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games and a chance to visit India, a country rich in history and culture. I really want to see their flair on the Commonwealth Games. That is an experience I am very privileged to be able to experience. I am feeling very excited and I think that feeling goes right throughout the team."
Meanwhile, Organising Committee president Suresh Kalmadi has hit out at critics of the Games and alleged there has been an international plot to discredit India.
Kalmadi has been harshly criticised in India for the problems that have plagued the build-up to the event. "I take responsibility for mess but must be given credit if Games are a success," he said. PTI