TODAY -

Oh yaaron, yeh India bulaa liya ...

Seram Neken *



"Manipur is a tiny state. It bagged the highest number of medals in the National Games (when I was the Sports Minister)...If Rs 35,000 crore (an estimate of thecost of CW Games expenditure) is spent in Manipur, if we conduct the Commonwealth Games there, the insurgents would have got a very good answer. There are excellent facilities in Imphal. Why do we keep coming back to Delhi ?"
- Mani Sankar Aiyer

Stories of discrimination towards sportspersons from the state have been reported many times in the Indian sports administration. Woman Boxer L. Sarita's case is not the new and only one here. Amidst the bad news over her trial selection for the 16th Asian games and her return of the prestigious Arjuna Award to the Sports Minister, we are very lately enthralled to hear that the magnificent lady Mary Kom will bear the Queen's Baton in the Opening of the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Although the national and state media rarely portray Mary Kom's Baton Rally participation in the ensuing ceremony, the world boxing champion lady from Manipur deserves the status of being the Brand Ambassador of the biggest ever international games being held in India.

It is also good news that world-fame Manipuri Pung-Cholom will be part of the opening rhythm in this greatest extravaganza. Keeping aside controversies and negative publicity in the games build-up in India, the Commonwealth Games 2010 sets a historic landmark of being the biggest-ever in terms of participants with more than 6700 athletes and officials confirming their entries for the event.

Oh yaaron, yeh India bulaa liya; Diwaano yeh India bulaa liya... Music maestro AR Rahman's call to the people and athletes of India and abroad will mark the grand opening of the Commonwealth Games 2010 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday, 3rd October.

The theme song "Swagatham" which may even go beyond Shakira's Waka-Waka is dedicated to the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Shera, meaning the Tiger is the mascot of the event. It will appear as a 'large-hearted gentleman' who loves making friends and enthusing people to 'come out and play'.

In Indian mythology, the tiger is considered an embodiment of power and the vanquisher of evil. Goddess Durga rides tiger as a powerful vehicle into combat in the Indian epics. Tiger embodies values of majesty, power, charisma, intelligence and grace that the nation is proud of. A tiger's athletic prowess, courage and speed on the field are legendary and it is time we remind our responsibility towards the protection of its ecosystem.

"Come Out and Play" is the tagline inviting every person and player across all divides to come out and participate in the Games to the best of their abilities, in the true sprit of sports. It is an exhortation to them to set new records, to outperform, and to raise the bar by scaling new peaks of achievement. It is also a call to the people of India to come out in support of the Games and play the perfect host's role.

The logo of the Games inspired by the Chakra, the national symbol of freedom, unity and power depicts the growth of India into a proud and vibrant nation. Truly, India has travelled a long journey from tradition to modernity, transformed economically into a super power reaching out to the world and leading the way. Now she has enthusiastically embraced all the 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth to become one and hosts the best ever Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The Commonwealth Games is an international, multi-sport event held every four years and features competitions involving thousands of elite athletes from members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930 under the title of the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The event was renamed as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and gained its current title in 1978.

There are currently 54 members of the Commonwealth of Nations and 71 teams participate in the sporting competition bringing together the countries which were once under the British Empire. Since 1958, there has been a relay of athletes carrying a baton from Buckingham Palace to the Opening Ceremony. This baton has within it the Queen's message of greetings to the athletes. The baton will culminate at the Games venue after travelling 1.9 lakh kilometers across 71 countries.

India will be participating in all the 17 disciplines - a privilege they got being the hosts - with 379 male and 240 female athletes competing for the medals. Besides Mary Kom, five top sportspersons who will be the baton-bearers to the Nehru Stadium are Saina Nehwal, Samresh Jung, Akhil Kumar and Sushil Kumar. Abhinav Bindra, the Olympic Gold medalist will lead the Indian contingent carrying the Indian tricolour at the march past.

It is not surprising that shooting has won India medals in previous two editions of the Olympics, with Bindra winning the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore earning a silver in 2004 Olympics at Athens. Next in line of medal-prospect is weightlifting, which has sometimes managed to earn even more medals than shooting.

From 1990 to 2002, weightlifting contributed to nearly half of India's medal tally. In 1990, weightlifting bagged 24 medals for India, while in 1994 and 1998 Games, it gave the country 11 and 13 medals, respectively. Its biggest medal haul came in 2002 Manchester Games when Indian weightlifters won as many as 27 medals, including 11 gold, nine silver and seven bronze out of the country's overall tally of 69 medals.

However, weightlifting ended on a disappointing note in the 2006 Melbourne Games where it just managed to earn nine medals (three gold, five silver and a bronze). Favourites to win gold medals in the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi are defending champion in women's 58kg Renubala Chanu, K Ravi Kumar (men's 69 kg) and Soniya Chanu (women's 48kg). Melbourne silver-medallist L Monika Devi also makes a comeback after her two-year ban for doping.

Manipur, usually termed as sports house of India, has a number of medal prospects in this Games event. The state will bring fame on behalf of the country in spite of the discriminatory attitude of the Indian mainland sports administration.

May the almighty bless our sportspersons in bagging medals by defeating the whole world in the various disciplines ensuing Games.

*** This article was written before the start of the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi




* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) . This article was webcasted on October 09, 2010.



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