Shillong, Nov 9: Meghalaya has the unhappy distinction of being the only state not to win a single medal at the 37th National Games, which concluded in Goa today.
Medalless Meghalaya had company in the form of the Union territory of Ladakh, though, which also did not win any of the nearly 2,000 medals on offer in more than 40 disciplines.
All the seven other North East states won at least one medal, with Manipur seventh overall with 30 gold, 22 silver and 30 bronze. Assam was 12th (14G, 20S, 22B), Arunachal Pradesh 21st (6G, 2S, 5B), Mizoram 27th (2G, 3S), Nagaland 29th (1G, 3S, 4B), Tripura 32nd (1S) and Sikkim 35th (1B).
Maharashtra won the overall championship with 80 gold, 69 silver and 79 bronze medals.
Meghalaya took part in just eight events, with around 40 athletes and 20 officials travelling to Goa (except for the small golf contingent as that sport was held in Delhi).
Half the athletes were part of the men’s football team and the Meghalaya State Olympic Association had apparently pinned a lot of hopes on the state team. As it happened, Meghalaya earned just 1 point from three group games and couldn’t qualify for the semifinals.
The other disciplines for which the MSOA sent athletes were athletics (2), aquatics (4), boxing (1), wushu (1), shooting (4), golf (4) and sqay (4), the latter being an indigenous martial art form from Kashmir.
“Sports participation is more important than winning,” MSOA General Secretary Finely L Pariat said when quizzed by journalists about the lack of medals for Meghalaya a few days ago.
The MSOA has, in the last couple of years, put in a lot of effort into identifying young athletes with potential using standardised testing. It is hoped that promising youngsters can be given specialised training and this will help the state succeed at the National Games, Asian Games and even Olympics but the results from this programme are still years away.
“We have begun properly just two years now so how can we win? It takes years to get top athletes to compete with international athletes. At the National Games all participants from other states have represented the country. We have not won at the national level also. So be patient, my friends,” Pariat added.
Meanwhile, today MSOA Working President John F Kharshiing congratulated the government of Goa during his brief interaction with Goan Minister of Sports & Youth Affairs, Govind Gaude, for the “successful conduct” of the Games, which began on 23rd October.
Gaude invited Meghalaya stakeholders to visit Goa to come and exchange views and speak to Goa organisers about preparations for the conduct of this prestigious mega sporting event.
Meghalaya was awarded hosting rights for the 2022 Games but this had to be pushed back due to Covid-19, construction delays and to accommodate states that had been awarded the event earlier but which had not held them yet. Before Meghalaya, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh are yet to host their events, Kharshiing informed. Uttarakhand has already revealed that its National Games will be held in October 2024.