Gujarat’s impulsive choice to host the National Games with fewer than 100 days of preparation won’t be felt in terms of sports till later.
Sports enthusiasts’ interest has been piqued by Gujarat’s exceptional performance, which included earning 12 gold medals and a total of 36 medals across 13 disciplines (at the time of writing).
The improved infrastructure in the numerous venues throughout the six host cities in the state will be the Games’ long-term legacy. According to Ravinder Chaudhry, secretary-general of the Athletics Federation of India, the National Games can have a good, long-lasting impact on a State’s sports attitude.
“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 Kumar (men’s 10000m), Reena Patel (women’s 10000m) and Kajal Parmar (women’s Javelin Throw) finished in the top six of their events.
“Gujarat has had National Games medalists before. I am sure with its progressive sports policy, it will nurture more champions soon,” Ravinder Chaudhry said, according to a release.
The spanking new tennis facility at the Sabarmati Riverfront Sports Complex is also a case in point, as Competition Manager Sunder Iyer said. “The complex is so good that it has the potential to host International Tennis Federation events,” he said. “With the State’s 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. There are several schemes that are working as a spur for youngsters,” Arjun Singh Rana said.
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,” Ravinder 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.
The sports revolution is undeniably under way in Gujarat, if the hordes of fans in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Surat, and Vadodara are any evidence. It will benefit from its leading role with a cutting-edge sports strategy, the Khel Mahakumb, and support for young athletes through the Shaktidoot Scheme.