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Of new hopes and hidden promises
- Anjali, Jitender, Aparna begin today

Athens: Whatever the chances and whatever the outcome, Indiaís chase at the Athens Olympic Games promises to be a long one.

It is to be seen whether that chase will be interesting, whether it will be worth the cheer for the Anil Ambanis and the like who have decided to make their voice heard in this historic city of Athina.

Getting down to the serious business of marking territory will be Indiaís ace shooter Anjali Bhagwat, in the air-rifle. The shooters were pretty keyed up at the range here, refusing to talk to the media, and that was understandable.

India depend on them for a medal from the Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre, way off the main Olympic ring area and way down into the south, across the airport.

Also in fray will be pugilist Jitender Kumar, who just about missed a bronze in the Sydney Games. The 81kg category fighter will pit his skills against Andriy Fedchuk of Ukraine in the menís light heavy round of 32.

The shuttle bugs will be active as well, Aparna Popatís first round opponent being Michelle Edwards of South Africa. Considering Popatís established credibility, this womenís singles round of 32 clash isnít going to be too difficult.

Indiaís other entry ó Nikhil Kanetkar in the menís singles, faces off against Sergio Llopis of Spain in the first round the day after Popat takes to the court.

Basically, the athletes have adjusted well, the heat here quite matching Indian climates. They have gone about their work quietly and the last thing to be heard from the Indian contingent would be a scandal a Greek version of which was enacted here.

Nobody is really paying any attention to the fact that it also happens to be Friday and the 13th August. Tradition here run too deep, and far too long to believe in frisky and flimsy talk.

Sunny Thomas believes this to be true for his wards. The course isnít and conditions arenít unknown to many in the squad, some having participated in a meet earlier. They will have a better and cleaner say in things.

Activity in the Olympic area, a little distance from the main city centre, is extreme, with a small number of facilities yet to be completed. Those facilities, though, arenít directly connected to the Games. With typical casual calm of the Greek, a resident says: ď'Hey, we still have a day for the competitions.Ē Those minor glitches apart, though, transport definitely seems to be developing into a major problem in the competition days to come.

Each road has a special lane especially earmarked for Olympic transport (all vehicles) and the speed in those lanes are extremely high. It is a novel way of tackling major Olympic traffic in a crowded situation. But whether that dies to a clog-up, is to be seen.

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