Shillong geared up for SAF

R. K. Sharma, CEO of the Games in Shillong says there has been demand for tickets for boxing and badminton. Mary Kom will be competing; Saina Nehwal, however, hasn’t confirmed participation.

Indian compound archers Rajat Chauhan (left) and Abhishek Verma.   -  M. Moorthy

‘Tikhor’, the playful rhino which has been named the mascot of the SAG, stares at you from every corner of the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex here.

As you enter the football ‘B’ ground, you see a handful of Indian and Bhutanese archers practising, with the Indian men’s compound team chief coach Dhaneshwar Maida keenly watching his wards.

Speaking to Sportstar here on Wednesday, Dhaneshwar says that Indian team will aim for nothing less than gold in both the team and individual events.

Asked whether the prevailing cold weather would be a deterrent, the coach says the team’s short camp in Sonepat (Haryana), with similar conditions, would help. “Moreover our players are individually ranked higher than other teams’ archers,” he says.

“It will be a clean sweep,” says Rajat Chauhan, India’s No.1 compound archer. Abhishek Verma, the second best Indian men’s archer, concurs: “Ninety nine per cent, it will be India.”

At the other end of the football ground, preparations are underway. “We have been working around the clock for the last one month,” says Ranjan Bhoumick, Chairman of Judges for archery. “The ‘test’ event we conducted last month was a success. We had a checklist of 48 items and everything has been ticked.”

A portion of the ‘B’ ground will be used for spectators, with stands being erected. “The seating capacity for the public will be for 300-400 people,” says F. B. Chyne, the venue administrator.

R. K. Sharma, CEO of the Games in Shillong, is visiting all the venues to ensure everything is in place. “We are Games-ready,” he says.

The only major challenge, according to Sharma, has been the accommodation of players. “Since we don’t have a Games village, accommodating all the players in a small city with few quality hotels, has been tough, but we have sorted that out,” he says.

Sharma says there has been demand for tickets for boxing and badminton. Mary Kom will be competing; Saina Nehwal, however, hasn’t confirmed participation. “The seating capacity for boxing and badminton is around 600 each,” he says. The tickets have been priced from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50, but will increase for the semifinals and final.

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