Shillong, Jan 21: Meghalaya’s medal winners from the first ever North East Olympic Games, which were held in Imphal in October, were felicitated with cash awards at a function organised by the Directorate of Sports & Youth Affairs at the JN Indoor Stadium here on Monday.
Meghalaya had won three gold, seven silver and 28 bronze medals across individual and team events.
The three gold medal winners – Marso Khyndait (1,500m), Tanushree Dasgupta (table tennis) and Jitendra Shah (boxing, 75-81kg) – were awarded with Rs 25,000.
This is significantly higher than what was previously doled out to gold medal winners by the state government, Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh said. In the past they were awarded only Rs 7,000.
There were also bumps up for silver and bronze medallists. Silver winners now get Rs 10,000 (compared to Rs 5,000 earlier) and bronze winners Rs 5,000 (up from Rs 3,000).
More than Rs 3 lakh was distributed at the function to the successful athletes.
“I was very excited last year by the news of getting medals,” Lyngdoh said in his speech. He then explained why it had taken the government several months to felicitate the athletes, saying that he wanted it to be “the best”.
“You (athletes) have done well. You have done a great job for our state,” the minister added.
Other speakers at the event were Sports & Youth Affairs Commissioner & Secretary Peter Dkhar, who said, “Sports has to be a continuous process, something done everyday.”
Meghalaya State Olympic Association Working President John Kharshiing also had words of thanks to the parents of the athletes.
“Thanks, especially, to the parents for being instrumental in encouraging their children,” he said. “At short notice, and on a small budget, we went to Imphal and came back with 38 medals. But what got us through was the passion.”
Both Kharshiing and Lyngdoh also spoke about the National Games.
The audience also heard from Dasgupta about the experience of taking part in the Games.
“There were some challenges in the living conditions and food. But overall it was a great experience and we got to interact with top athletes, which was a very good learning experience,” she said before adding a plea to the government for continued support as the athletes prepare for the National Games.