Dame Kelly delivers passionate firework night speech to Commonwealth sports

Dame Kelly Holmes, recently-appointed President of Commonwealth Games England, issued a rallying cry to England’s sports representatives at the Annual General Meeting of the CGE held in London today (November 5th).

The double Commonwealth Gold medallist urged sports and athletes not to miss the opportunity of next year’s Games in Delhi (October 3-14, 2010) during the meeting led by Sir Andrew Foster, the CGE Chairman, and attended by the Rt. Hon Gerry Sutcliffe, MP, Minister for Sport.

“Get your best team out there”, said Dame Kelly. “Don’t miss out on the opportunity to succeed and to win medals.

“Medals are there for ever. They last a lifetime. I would never have missed willingly any championships in my career. I’m proud of every medal that I’ve won.

“Don’t make the assumption that your athletes or players or sportspeople will not want to go to Delhi. The Games are an important event”.

The twice Olympic gold medallist also called on the sports not to forget their young sportspeople. “Remember the value, too, of a multi-sport Games. Nothing can substitute for that experience.

When you go to the Games and you are part of such a big event with the Village and all the flags and the different sports, some people can fold.

It’s important they get the option to experience the multi-sport environment, particularly with London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 in mind”.

Her comments were echoed by the Sports Minister: “The Commonwealth Games provide a unique opportunity as the only multi-sport Games at which England competes under its own flag.

“There are many examples to suggest that success at Commonwealth Games level leads to future Olympic success”, he said.

The Opening Ceremony to the Delhi Commonwealth Games takes place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on 3rd October 2010 and will be followed by 11 days of exciting world-class action across 17 sports.

There will be added significance for England athletes this time around as they will be competing at their last international multi-sport competition before the London 2012 Olympics.

Craig Hunter, who will be England’s Chef de Mission for the Games, and who has recently returned from a recce to Delhi alongside England’s team managers, said the Games will be an important stepping stone for many England athletes targeting success in 2012.

“Delhi is fundamental,” he said. “There have been a lot of world championships this year that performance directors and coaches have been focussed on, but now people’s attention is turning to Delhi.

“The Delhi Commonwealth Games will be an important stepping stone to London 2012 and to the golden era of sport that’s coming up in the UK, with the 2014 Commonwealth Games following in Glasgow.

“In the next 11 months athletes will be focussed on qualifying for the team and then finalising their preparations for the Games, so when our athletes get there they will be ready to compete with distinction at the highest level.”

Seventeen sports feature on the programme for the Delhi Commonwealth Games – aquatics (swimming, diving and synchronised swimming), archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, hockey, lawn bowls, netball, rugby 7s, shooting, squash, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

For further information please contact the Commonwealth Games England press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 443998 or check the CGE website at www.weareengland.org

Commonwealth Games England is the organisation responsible for selecting and organising England's team at the Commonwealth Games. At the last Games, held in Melbourne in 2006, England were second only to hosts Australia on the medal table winning 36 gold, 40 silver and 34 bronze medals.

Sport England is a major funder of Commonwealth Games England.