National Games will leave a lasting legacy for Gujarat sport, say athletes and officials
The real sporting impact of Gujarat’s spontaneous decision to host the National Games, with less than 100 days’ preparation time, will be felt only over time.
The successful conduct and the unprecedented performance by the Gujarat contingent in winning 12 gold and an overall 36 medals across 13 disciplines (at the time of writing) have captured the attention of sports fans.
The long-term impact of the Games will come through upgraded infrastructure in the multiple venues in the six host cities in the State. Athletics Federation of India Secretary-General Ravinder Chaudhry said the National Games can have a long-lasting and positive effect on a State’s sporting ethos.
“While Kerala, the hosts of the last National Games, have always been a sports-conscious State, earlier host cities like Guwahati and Ranchi, Assam and Jharkhand have drawn huge benefits from staging the National Games. Many youngsters have taken to and doing well on the athletics circuit. I am sure that will be the case here, too,” he said.
Gujarat did not win any track and field medals, but Murli Gavit
players like Ankita Raina and Zeel Desai doing well, interest in the sport will only rise.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games rower Arjun Lal Jat was among those who was pleased with the conditions.
“We competed here with infrastructure and facilities at par with the best international events we compete in,” he said. His Olympic Games team-mate Arvind Singh nodded in agreement and said that Ahmedabad could well be India’s new rowing hub.
“Gujarat have drawn a long-term plan for sports. Not only are we adding world-class infrastructure to attract international events, we are also working at the grassroots level to identify and hone talent,” Dr Arjun Singh Rana said. “There are several schemes that are working as a spur for youngsters,” he added.
AFI Secretary-General Ravinder Chaudhry said the quality equipment used in the National Games competition would also help track and field sport in Gujarat.
“I am told the Sports Authority of Gujarat will use the equipment in its centres across the State. It cannot be put to better use than this,” he said.
“The athletes were happy with things like the pole vault box, the landing pits at High Jump and Pole Vault, the cage around the Discus and Hammer Throw circle. These gave them the confidence to express themselves in the competition. Used in the training hubs, these can enhance the development of athletics in the State,” Mr. Chaudhry said.
Badminton star HS Prannoy expressed similar thoughts.
“This kind of event and the players’ experience will resonate with the young generation. Such a big event should reach the young players to motivate them,” he said after the completion of the Mixed Team event which drew massive crowds to the Indoor Stadium in Surat.
If the throngs of spectators in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara are any indication, it can be concluded that the sports revolution is well and truly underway in Gujarat. Its leadership position with a futuristic sports policy, the Khel Mahakumb and support of young athletes through the Shaktidoot Scheme will pay dividends.