The energy and vibrancy of the youth of the region was showcased in brilliant fashion and in true North Eastern way, dotted with glitz, glamour and technology in even measure, as the 12th South Asian Games were put to the boards at the Indira Gandhi stadium, Sarusajai, here on Friday evening.
The entry of the teams led by the Games mascot, Tikhor, and starting with Afghanistan only to be followed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka was also greeted with a warm applause which, however, reached a crescendo as the host Indian contingent brought up the rear. The team with the women athletes smartly attired in turquoise blue sarees and the men in grey and blue was led by squash ace Saurav Ghosal as it made its way into the stadium.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the event and in his brief speech, emphasised that the Games to him signified three Ts – team work, togetherness and talent, and hoped that the event will bring together the people of South Asia like never before.
“Without sport, there cannot be any sportsman spirit. I have always maintained that the person who plays shines. I am sure that the athletes participating in the Games will bear this in mind as they compete in the competitions in a spirit of friendship, peace and brotherhood. Let the Games be undergone in true sportsmanship and let the best win,” he said before declaring the Games open.
The sacred Games torch was thereafter brought to the stadium proudly by shooter Gagan Narang, who handed it over Monalisa Mehta-Barua (table tennis). It then changed hands between Bhogeswar Barua (athletics), Rani Rampal (hockey), Krishna Poonia (athletics) and Anju Bobby George (athletics) before reaching star footballer Bhaichung Bhutia who digitally transformed the flame to the centre platform which touched the giant screen before reaching the giant cauldron.
Ghosal, as the Indian captain, took the oath on behalf of the participating athletes which also marked the end of the sports protocol segment and the simultaneous entry of the artistes and take centre-stage. The excitement among the throng only got better as the show inched forward marking it a great evening to remember.