Gujarat wins 10th gold, records top haul of National Games

Continuing the trend that has been set long ago, the hosts perform exceptionally well.

Gujarat has really come as a sports state. With five days remaining in the immensely successful 36th National Games, hosts Gujarat have surpassed their best ever Games performance, justifying the State’s decision to step in at short notice and host the Games.

As hosts, the state had already made history by hosting the Gujarat National Games in less than 100 days. Gujarat upgraded and fixed all the venues in six cities and left no stone unturned to provide more than 7,000 athletes with a memorable experience. But with its athletes seizing the opportunity to showcase their rise, Gujarat’s decision has been vindicated.

“I commend the Gujarat government for taking up the challenge of hosting the Games in such a short time,” Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said at the opening ceremony 10 days ago.

However, Gujarat sports fans will be more satisfied with the performance of their athletes. By the time they won their 10th gold on Friday night, with their star swimmer Maana Patel taking three out of the pool, they recorded their best comeback at the Gujarat National Games.

“The sports scene in Gujarat has changed drastically in the last decade. The government has introduced many schemes including the very popular Shaktidoot scheme. Khel Mahakumbh has motivated the masses to take up sports,” said Maana Patel when asked about the support from the state government.

Most encouragingly, the state, which has become more interested in sport recently, has amassed medals from 11 different disciplines, from water sports to yogasana, badminton, wrestling and judo, and shooting. In 2015, most of Gujarat’s 20 medals came from tennis and swimming.

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Pooja Patel who won women’s gold in Traditional Yogasana, Archer Amita Rathva who won an individual silver and a team bronze in the Indian Archery event, Hinaben Khalifa who became the second female fighter from the state to win a medal in the National Games, are the main examples of the wide range of artists.

Olympians Elavenil Valarivan (shooter), Ankita Raina (tennis) and Maana Patel (swimming) have become Indian stars. In fact, at Tokyo 2020, six players from the state, including three para athletes, were part of the Indian contingent, which is highly commendable.

“We have introduced a very progressive Sports Policy. There are various schemes not only to promote the sport at the grassroots level but also to search for talent and nurture it,” said Arjun Singh Rana, Vice-Chancellor of Swarnim Gujarat Sports University.

The Shaktidoot scheme currently supports 64 carefully selected athletes from 14 sports. The DLSS (District Level Sports Course) scheme along with the Khel Mahakumbh have also been crucial triggers that have seen Gujarat rise from a poor 28th position in the medal table in 2011.

“All together, the best sportsmen in Gujarat enjoy financial assistance at every stage of their career, preparing them to compete at the highest level in world sport,” added Arjun Singh Rana. “This is the result of all the hard work we have put in over the years, including the massive investments made in sports infrastructure in step with our progressive sports policy.”

Gujarat today also boasts of many high performance centers to train its athletes in addition to world class stadiums.

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“PDDU Stadium in Surat is one of the best indoor venues I have ever seen,” said two-time Olympic medal winner PV Sindhu during her visit to Gujarat. “It can host not only the Indian Open but also any international mega tournament,” she enthused about the stadium, which has hosted the country’s top table tennis and badminton players.

Technical director and national rowing coach, Ismail Baig couldn’t help but be excited about the Sabarmati course. “He’s easily the best in the country. Gujarat can now become the center of international events”, he declared even as a couple of Olympians testified that it was even better than the field used in the Tokyo Olympics.

It can only be forward and upward to the progressive state.

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