Hosts India sign off in style with record haul of 308 medals, including 188 golds; Nepal to host 13th edition in 2018
OUR SPORTS REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Feb 16: The curtains came down to the 12-day South Asian Games, which had kicked off on February 5 amidst much euphoria, in a glittering file at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium here today. Apart from the colorful parade of participating countries and dousing of the Games flame, the closing ceremony was marked with a pulsating cultural function witnessed by a jam-packed stadium.
The 12th South Asian Games was the first intertiol multi-sporting mega event in the Northeastern region. Around 3,500 athletes and officials from eight countries, mely Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in this edition of the Games.
Hosts India expectedly domited the Games from the very beginning, finishing with its highest ever tally of medals. India collected record 308 medals including 188 golds, 90 silvers and 30 bronzes.
Sri Lanka came a distant second with 25 golds, 63 silvers and 98 bronzes. Pakistan retained the third place with 12 golds, 37 silvers and 57 bronzes.
A host of dignitaries were present in the closing ceremony which was also attended by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Union Minister of State for Sports and Chairman of SAG Organizing Committee Sarbanda Sonowal, president of Indian Olympic Association N Ramachandran, Assam Sports Minister Ajit Singh and Meghalaya Sports Minister Zenith Sangma, Sports Minister of Nepal Satya rayan Mandal, Bangladesh Sports Minister Biren Shikdar and president of the Nepal Olympic Association Jeevan Ram Shreshta.
Applauding the sportsmanship of the participants, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi thanked them and said that the State is grateful that it got a chance to host them. “You are our ambassadors to carry the message of Assam, Meghalaya and the whole of Northeast to your respective countries,” Gogoi said, adding, “By and large, the players have expressed their happiness the manner in which the games have been conducted and arrangements made for them. They have been moved by the friendliness and warm hospitality of the people of both the States. I hope they will continue to cherise the wonderful moments they spent here.”
Union Minister of State for Sports Sarbanda Sonowal too expressed gratification and said that the Games gave an opportunity to the Northeast to showcase its unity to the world. “By hosting the Games for the first time in its history in two cities, Assam and Meghalaya have shown to the world that united we can take on any challenge in any field. We had to organize the Games in a very short period of time and everyone associated with the Games have done a splendid job to make it a grand success,” said Sonowal, who started and ended the speech in Assamese with English in the middle.
Praising the Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya, the Government of India, the Indian Olympic Association and all the volunteers for the resounding success of the Games, Sonowal said the Games have brought all the SAARC countries to Guwahati and Shillong. “I am confident that we will all move unitedly for ushering in equal growth and prosperity to the South Asian region in the days ahead,” he said.
Sonowal hoped that Tikhor, the sports mascot of the 12th edition of South Asian Games and the pride of the North East region, would help to strengthen further relationship among the South Asian countries in the days ahead. He further hoped that the Games would inspire and motivate the young talents of the region and bring their latent talents to the fore. “Following the success of the Games, more steps will be taken up to host tiol and intertiol events in the region,” he added.
With the Sports Minister announcing the closure of the Games and the dousing of the flames, the flag was handed over to Nepal as host of the 13th edition of the Games, 2018. Nepal Sports Minister Satya rayan Mandal and the president of the Nepal Olympic Association Jeevan Ram Shrestha received the flag from their Indian counterparts Sarbanda Sonowal and N Ramchandran respectively. Nepal also made a brief cultural presentation at the Indira Gandhi Athletic stadium this evening to mark the occasion.
Later the stadium was rocked with a colourful closing function where Bollywood singer Shaan along with Lou Majaw & Friends, Sangita Kakoti, Mayukh Hazarika and a host of young musicians performed to huge cheers. Several top rock groups of the Northeast were also part of the mega closing ceremony, lit up by a glitzy pyrotechnic show.