Shillong, Nov 16: Medals were won, obstacles were overcome and friends were made over the course of seven days, with the 2nd North East Olympic Games 2022 concluding in Shillong today with a memorable closing ceremony.

Manipur were named the Overall Champions, defending their crown from NEOG 2018. Manipur finished with 88 gold, 75 silver and 77 bronze medals, with Assam in second place (79G, 61S, 63B).

They faced a strong challenge up to the final day, but Arunachal Pradesh kept third place with 39 gold, 36 silver and 37 bronze.

Hosts Meghalaya, however, were standout performers this year, rising from sixth place in 2018 to fourth this year. Four years ago the state won just 3 gold medals but today finished these Games with 36 gold, which is 12 times as many as last time, along with 35 silver and 78 bronze.

Dignitaries at the closing ceremony included the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh and  Commissioner and Secretary of Sports and Youth Affairs Vijay Kumar and Working President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association John F Kharshiing.

The Chief Minister presented the Overall Champions trophy to Manipur, the runners-up trophy to Assam and the third place trophy to Arunachal Pradesh. The flag of the NEOG was handed over to Kharshiing, who presented it to the Chef de Mission of Nagaland, Neilyalie Angami, as the next hosts of the NEOG.

“I congratulate each and every one of you,” Sangma told the gathered athletes. “These North East Olympic Games have not only raised the bar in terms of infrastructure and arrangements but the performances of our athletes have been out of this world…That is the most satisfying thing about these Games and I am proud to see the level of talent we have in the North East. I am also proud to be able to hold Games at a level that is comparable to anywhere else in the country. This was only possible because everyone worked as a team. These Games have proven that if you work as a team and dedicate yourself then nothing is impossible.”

He added that the Games are a celebration of the youth of the North East. “You are at the centre of what we want to do for the future of our state, region and country. We are here to celebrate sport and we are here to celebrate the culture and people of the North East. I hope you’ve made friends and memories that last a lifetime. Sports is about winning and losing and that is how life is too. Hence, sport prepares us and teaches us how to learn from defeat and come out stronger,” he said.

The Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, meanwhile, said that “Meghalaya is on the move with more sports mega events in the coming years.” He also congratulated the top three states and praised the Meghalaya contingent, especially the athletics team, which topped their discipline.

Kumar also praised all those involved in NEOG 2022 for the tremendous work that they have put in over the last few months to make the Games the huge success that it was.

“The responses from athletes and visiting state officials has been overwhelming. As organisers, it is very gratifying,” he said. “To prepare our venues and organise accommodation for 3,000 athletes has been a huge task. Huge infrastructure has been put up very quickly. All this has been possible because of team effort, Team Meghalaya. I thank our Honourable Chief Minister, our team leader, for pushing us to make the Games a success.”

Meghalaya State Olympic Association General Secretary Finely Pariat said that it is a matter of pride for Meghalaya to have a CM under whom so many major sports events have been brought to Meghalaya.

“I congratulate everybody on putting on a great show and matching Gujarat who held the National Games,” he added. Speaking on the growth of sports in Meghalaya, Pariat said, “The seed has been sown by the government and we shall nurture it. No doubt. with the talent we have in our state, we will see national and international champions in the near future.”

The closing ceremony featured a number of the bright, young musical acts, such as Ahlyna, Gracel Ropmay, Banjop, Lamphang Syiemlieh and closed with a stunning fireworks display and concert that continued well into the evening, to the great enjoyment of the thousands of athletes present, who did not let the previous week’s exhausting performances get in their way of dancing.

(DIPR photo)

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