The countdown to the 2010 Commonwealth Games begins in earnest today  – one year from the start of the Games.

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, said Delhi 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. Delhi will help athletes and teams to evaluate where they are on the road to 2012

“For a number of sports Delhi will also represent the most important competition on next calendar’s year, including for non-Olympic sports, like netball and lawn bowls.

“In the next 12 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.”

England team managers head out to Delhi on 18 October for a four-day recce of the host city, the sporting venues and the Games Village, and for a series of meetings with Games’ organisers.

“Our recce will give us the opportunity to look at all of the venues and to get a perspective of everything that’s happening,” said Hunter.

“I’m sure the Games will be wonderful and that the competition fields of play will all be fantastic.”

It’s also an exciting time for Hunter, who managed England’s swimmers at the Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, but goes to Delhi as Chef de Mission for the first time.

“I’m really, really excited about the Games. It’s going to be an amazing experience for me personally and for the team,” he said. “I think things are looking really encouraging for us to have a great Games.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, who was named President of Commonwealth Games England (CGE) in May, said the Commonwealth Games played an important role in her development as a world-class athlete.

“The benefits of the Commonwealth Games are huge,” she said. “It’s like a mini Olympics and it’s a brilliant introduction to the Olympic Games.

“The Commonwealth Games are a great platform for English athletes and Delhi is two years before the biggest sporting show in the world is taking place in London.”

Dame Kelly won golds in England colours at the Victoria Commonwealth Games in 1994 and followed that up with silver in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, before adding a gold on home turf at the Manchester 2002 Games – two years before her double gold medal winning performance at the Athens Olympics.

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.

It’s an energising time for Commonwealth Games England (CGE), the organisation responsible for selection and organising England’s team at the Commonwealth Games.

Yesterday (Friday 2nd October) the CGE launched an exciting new brand identity and logo consisting of a powerful red lion and the strapline ‘WE ARE ENGLAND’, celebrating the diversity and togetherness of the England team.

It comes just two weeks after CGE Chair Sir Andrew Foster named a list of 13 members for the newly constituted CGE Board, which will guide England’s participation at the Delhi Games and beyond.

The new Board includes former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and David Ross, the co-founder of The Carphone Warehouse plc.

For further information please contact the Commonwealth Games England press office at Matchtight Ltd on 01225 443998 or check the CGW website at

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 Team England.