Gandhinagar (Gujarat)[India], October 14 (ANI): As the dust settled down over the 36th National Games and the multiple venues in six cities fell silent, it was abundantly clear that, with a Herculean effort, Team Gujarat helped the National Games regain the pride of place in the country's sporting firmament.
Many experienced athletes had given up hope that they could compete in a multi-discipline event at home and the younger ones were unaware of the joys of taking part in the National Games. Gujarat gave them the experience to remember and cherish.
Any fears that the National Games was becoming less relevant to the athletes were quickly consigned to the sidelines with the participation of many top guns across 35 disciplines ranging from Aquatics and Athletics to Mallakhambh and Yogasana, from Badminton and Boxing to Wrestling and Weightlifting.
Many wonderful memories were made in the National Games as 382 gold among a total of 1249 medals were won by athletes from 32 teams, with Services topping the charts for the fourth time in a row.
Services won the Raja Bhalindra Singh Trophy with 61 gold, 35 silver and 32 bronze for a total of 129 medals from 19 disciplines. The magnitude of their achievement can be felt when one considers that all medals but one came from male athletes. With Services opening the doors to women athletes, this scenario can change sooner than later.
The battle between Maharashtra and Haryana for the Best State Trophy was very engaging, too. Maharashtra's 39 gold, 38 silver and 63 bronze for a total of 140 medals came from a broad sweep of 28 disciplines while Haryana fell back on 23 disciplines to garner 38 gold, 38 silver and 40 bronze for their total of 116.
Viewed purely for the domination of one sport, Haryana's 12 gold in Wrestling and Services' 11 in Athletics faded before the 19 gold that Karnataka claimed in Aquatics. Besides such battles at the top, it was heart-warming to watch a team like Jammu and Kashmir make their presence felt with six medals from Wushu towards the end of the Games.
There were tales that moved hearts too. From Gujarat's Krishiv Patel who ignored shooting pain caused by a broken toe in the Triathlon Mixed team event to Maharashtra 75kg class boxer Nikhil Dubey who won gold and dedicated it to his late coach Dhananjay Tiwari, the Games revealed that athletes were gifted humans rather than machines designed to win relentlessly.
The National Games also showed that age is no bar to winning medals. Shauryajit Khaire (Gujarat), at 10, was the youngest to be awarded a medal while Lawn Bowl star Lovely Choubey (Jharkhand), shotgun shooter Seema Tomar (Services) and swimmer Richa Mishra (Madhya Pradesh) were among the oldest athletes to win medals.
As they bid farewell to the genial mascot, Savaj the Lion, athletes knew that they had been fortunate to experience the joy of competing in a National Games this year, thanks to the Gujarat Government putting the event together in less than 100 days. It was a challenge that Gujarat took upon itself and succeeded in delivering without much ado.
They were grateful they had no horror stories to narrate since Team Gujarat came together to ensure a flawless delivery of the Games. Be it the playing conditions or their accommodation or nutrition or transport, they knew Gujarat had all the bases covered. It was no surprise that the athletes were encouraged to showcase their best. (ANI)