TODAY -

Below par performance : 35th National Games

Ranbir Ningthouja *

35th National Games : CM flags off Manipur contingent from Khuman Lampak Sports Complex on 24 January 2015
35th National Games : CM flags off Manipur contingent from Khuman Lampak Sports Complex on 24 January 2015 :: Pix - Daniel Chabungbam



Finally the curtains have come down on the biggest national level sporting extravaganza. The 35th National Games, 15 days long event, had been hosted by Kerala in an unprecedented and magnificent scale showcasing the best sporting talents of the country engaging in intense and fierce battle of supremacy in 33 various disciplines.

More than 8000 athletes hailing from 30 states, 5 Union Territories and 1 Board took part in the competition vying for over 400 medals at stake. As expected, Services Sports Control Board came out on top of the medal tally with a massive haul of 159 medals including 91 yellow metals.

With this top notch performance, Services complete a hatrick of three successive overall championship titles in the National Games.

Host Kerala, riding on an impressive performance in athletic events, came second.

State of Haryana, another emerging sporting powerhouse, secured third.

In the final medal table, the state of Manipur secured 7th position with total haul of 69 medals including 22 Gold medals.

In this Games, Manipur got off to a flying start bagging the first gold of the Games through its weightlifter Khumukcham Sanjita Chanu in 48 Kg category women. Performance of the state of Manipur, a traditional powerhouse, saw a sharp decline in the backdrop of the second position, it secured with 48 Gold medals, in the previous edition, 34th National Games held at Ranchi, Jharkhand during 2011.

Though we can still derive some satisfaction over the fact that this tiny state, with a population of less than 30 lakhs, is still ahead of plethora of larger states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, UP, Rajasthan etc., still, we should be wary of the fact that states like Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have excelled in various disciplines and displayed their superiority, leaving Manipur far behind.

This is a big jolt and calls for serious analysis and review of the existing set-up for promotion of sports by taking stock of the present situation.

The financial and other incentives and avenues, in store for the youth looking to make a mark and career in sports arena, should be enhanced to make it more attractive. It is also apparent that the infrastructure required and programmes devised to foster sports in the state did not grow as desired and could not keep pace with some other states.

Though the decades, if the small state of Manipur could find a mention in the international fora, it can be attributed to the outstanding sportspersons and cultural artists it produced. These fields are our forte and our support and pursuits on them should be relentless.

Further, it was truly saddening and caused severe heartburn to note that more than two dozen Manipuri athletes playing under the banner of Services and other states bagged gold for their respective teams. We should not lose sight of the fact that these athletes, in the absence of suitable avenues, might have migrated for greener pastures.

However, the State Government and sports administration should take all possible steps to check recurrence of such further ‘talent drains’.

In the face of fresh and stiff challenges posed by the newly emerging states, the Manipur Government and Sports administrator should urgently step up its efforts to make up the lost ground in the disciplines where it used to bag golds earlier, but, lost out this time. Focussing on tapping of young talents and nurturing them shall also pay good dividends.

36th National Games is slated to be held in Goa during November, 2016. Till then, we can keep our fingers crossed and hope that Manipuri athletes will put up a better show next time and live upto its billing.


* Ranbir Ningthouja wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Second In command, 109 Battalion CRPF, Mongsangei, Imphal and can be reached at ranbir5221(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on February 18, 2015.


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