Withdrawals add to Commonwealth Games troubles

LONDON (AP) - World champion athletes Phillips Idowu and Dani Samuels withdrew from the Commonwealth Games citing health and security concerns Tuesday, compounding problems for the trouble-plagued New Delhi event which is due to open next week.

English triple jumper Idowu and women's discus thrower Samuels of Australia made their decisions in the wake of the weekend shooting of two tourists in the Indian capital, claims that the athletes village is not habitable and Tuesday's collapse of a bridge at the main stadium, which injured 23 construction workers.

Idowu's England teammates Christine Ohuruogu, the 400m Olympic champion, and 1,500-meter runner Lisa Dobriskey cited injuries earlier Tuesday when they announced they will not defend their Commonwealth titles.

Idowu is yet to officially confirm his withdrawal but he made his feelings known via Twitter, apologizing for his decision but explaining that he had to think of his children.

"My safety is more important to them than a medal," he wrote in one tweet, before adding in another: "I understand people will be disappointed that I will not be competing. I am disappointed.

"If you know me as an athlete you will know these games mean a lot to me. It's the championships in which I won my first medal.

"All the press today about bridges collapsing and 23+ people being hurt, floods and uninhabitable living conditions, getting my daughter ready for school this morning and seeing all of that put me off. I can't afford to risk my safety in the slightest."

The Commonwealth Games were already without their biggest potential star: Jamaica's world and Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt withdrew in June, saying the event did not fit in with his schedule.

Bolt's fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser, the 100-meter women's world champion, is also be absent, along with England's heptathlon world champion Jessica Ennis.

Samuels' decision came after two Taiwanese tourists were wounded in a seemingly random shooting by two men on a motorcycle outside one of India's biggest mosques.

Samuels' manager Hayden Knowles said the athlete was extremely distressed to withdraw from the Australian team but had been bothered by preparations in New Delhi for some time.

"The events over the weekend made it real," Knowles said. "She had prepared her whole season around winning this thing, she even knocked back some Diamond League meets because it affected her training.

"She called me last night and then met with her coach and she couldn't even bring herself to train because she felt so bad.

"Her decision to pull out was a shock to us, but in a way it wasn't that much of a shock because we knew something was wrong. She was hiding it and then it all got too much for her."

Knowles said he did not believe Samuels' decision would influence other Australian athletes who might have reservations about competing in New Delhi. The swimmers, the highest-profile athletes on the Australian team, have been assured by team officials they can fly home from Delhi at any time if they feel under risk.

Australian Commonwealth Games chief executive Perry Crosswhite said it was always the individual athlete's decision whether to go to compete or not.

"It is a very personal decision and one which athletes must make in consultation with their family and individual support teams, and we accept and respect Dani's decision," Crosswhite said in a statement.

Australia topped the medal count when it hosted the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne four years ago.

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