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5th edition of the Meghalaya Games in Tura a masterstroke for sports promotion

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Tura, Jan 20: Meghalaya has been a state for over 50 years now and does not boast much of sporting infrastructures, except in the capital city, Shillong and few football stadiums in the town of Tura that could truly be called world class. Yet the state has produced a number of sportspersons that can rival many, both national and international.

For the Conrad Sangma led government in the state, the move to hold the 5th edition of the Meghalaya Games in the town of Tura is in many ways a masterstroke that can have immense positives for sports in the state. The fact that Conrad has promised a yearly circle of Olympic events in different venues every time will actually put a cheer into the hearts of budding sportspersons, who despite the will to excel hardly have the basic necessities to even know they are good enough to compete, not only at the state level but on a national or even international level. By the time they discover what they could have achieved with the right amount of support, they are already past their prime.

The previous four editions of the Games have always been held in the capital city where sporting culture, especially of the Olympic variety is well inculcated. This has meant that the district has continued its domination in Olympic events of the Games because it has always had an infrastructure that supported such activities.

The 5th edition of the Games is also the biggest with 23 Olympic events being held across the town and more than 3000 athletes participating. The previous edition in Shillong had 19 disciplines and around 2500 athletes take part. The 3rd edition saw only 14 disciplines being competed in.

The Games being moved to Tura has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the development of sports. For a region that hardly boasted of anything that could encourage a serious thought about sports, there is now a dream of living the passion as the CM aptly put earlier.

The holding of the Games in Tura has meant that a new track and field ground had to be made. Further with 22 other Olympic disciplines also being held, people who had only seen sports like boxing, archery, golf, wrestling among other on the telly or online, could get to see these in action with this own eyes.

What is more is the fact that these infrastructures will remain in the region as will sportspersons who will have access to these. With the right support and coaching, that everyone hopes the government will support with, most in the region feel that sky is the limit for what they can achieve.

While it may have raised eyebrows elsewhere, many sports like archery, boxing and even athletics became the domain of the Khasi – Jaintia Hills region as these areas had arenas to practice the sport. Given that these are now locally available, there is hope that the competition will not only increase but compete in levels never even thought possible for people in the state.

The buzz created by the Games, whether online or through the media is unprecedented and the team behind organizing the event should seriously be given a pat on their backs for the effort they put in just to get the Games into the minds of the public. Information disseminators have been present in all 17 venues where sporting events are being held and reports of the matches being given on a regular basis.

To understand the importance of how well organized this edition of the Games has been, all you need to do is look at the visibility of the games in the media. Earlier there were hardly any reports or any excitement during the earlier Games but that has now changed. What is even more exciting is that for the first time, medal tallies are being published and circulated everywhere – just as is done in important Games events.

Further athletes from across the state that have landed in the city have been provided very decent accommodation – a fact acknowledged by even the players themselves. While food may still be thorn in the side, the fact that barring the initial hoopla over it, there has been no further complaints.

The games were otherwise dominated by the teams from Khasi – Jaintia Hills, with East Khasi Hills (EKH) decimating all opposition to take first place. They were followed by the districts of Ribhoi, WJH, and SWKH in the fourth position. They were followed by WGH, WKH, EJH, EWKH, NGH, EGH, SGH and SWGH.

“The fact that we have now held the Games in our town in Tura is in itself an achievement. The fact that we hosted more than 3000 people within our homes without a hitch in any of the 6 days that the competition ran is an achievement. With these infrastructures now being present there is now hope that our sportspersons will strive to achieve more and place higher in the medals in the coming years,” felt an avid sportsperson and resident of Tura, AM Marak.

“This is the first time that the town of Tura has hosted events that feature in the Olympics. As a sportsperson, I can vouch for the fact that the town of Tura is always going to be hospitable to such events and encourage more of the same in our town. We welcome this move. Everyone behind the move should congratulate themselves for making this possible. We now have infrastructure that will encourage youths of all spheres to come forward and prove their mettle in the arena of sports. I also want to thank the government and all those involved for making this happen,” said former MLA Billykid A Sangma, who was also a winner in the Golf competition in the 5th edition.

For athletes in Garo Hills, the promise to work harder and achieve more is the dream that the just concluded Games in their region has given.

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