National Games 2022: Gujarat ready for sporting extravaganza

Athletes from 36 units will compete in 35 sports after handball was dropped at the last minute due to internal squabble. With the stress on indigenous sports, mallakhamba and yogasana will make their debut at the Games.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad. The stadium is one of the venues for the 36th National Games.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad. The stadium is one of the venues for the 36th National Games. | Photo Credit: PTI

Athletes from 36 units will compete in 35 sports after handball was dropped at the last minute due to internal squabble. With the stress on indigenous sports, mallakhamba and yogasana will make their debut at the Games.

Aspiring to host the Olympics in future, Gujarat will gain some first-hand experience of organising a multi-sport event as the 36th National Games will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the stadium named after him in Ahmedabad on Thursday.

Following the 2015 Kerala edition and the cancellation of the Goa edition, the National Games is being held after seven long years. The Gujarat Government relied on its existing infrastructure in six cities – Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavnagar and Rajkot – to make the mega event possible in an amazing 90 days’ time.

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Only Delhi is hosting the cycling track event.

Athletes from 36 units (states and Services Sports Control Board) will compete in 35 sports after handball was dropped at the last minute due to internal squabble. With the stress on indigenous sports, mallakhamba and yogasana will make their debut at the Games.

Despite the absence of some top sportspersons including Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra and Olympic medalists P.V. Sindhu, who were incidentally present at a build-up event graced by Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Wednesday, due to injuries, several others will be the star attraction of the event.

While top paddlers such as Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra have already competed in Surat, Olympic silver medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, top boxer Shiva Thapa, swimmers Sajan Prakash, Srihari Nataraj and Maana Patel, and archers Atanu Das and Tarundeep Rai will be seen in action in the coming days.

For the younger athletes, the sporting extravaganza will be an opportunity to get an experience of competing in a multi-sport event before they represent the nation in international tournaments. The organisers have also made arrangements for the athletes to experience the rich culture of Gujarat as the event is coinciding with the festive season of Navratri.

On the whole, the National Games will provide a new experience for Gujarat’s people who are more used to seeing world class cricketers than top athletes from other sports.

Also Read | National Games: History and past winners

Irrespective of the Games being staged in the backdrop of the forthcoming elections in the state, the Gujarat Government has taken a novel step by using the initiative to reach out to people in urban and rural areas as well.

The host state has not only made its best effort from an organisational point of view, but has also ensured that opportunity is given to its athletes by fielding the biggest contingent.

The next two weeks will tell whether the Games leave an impact on the sporting scenario of the country or not.

Background:
The National Games, which started at Lahore as the Indian Olympic Games in 1924, was held for 12 editions in the pre-Independence era before being rechristened as the National Games, the first edition of which was held at Lucknow in 1948.
Lahore has hosted it six times, including the first and last times before Independence.
First time it was held in more than one centre was in 1987 in Kerala.
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