Kerala bids farewell, passes baton to Goa
Kerala bid farewell to the participants of the 35th National Games at the Greenfield stadium, Kariyavattom on Saturday evening with a memorable closing ceremony that was a brilliant cultural show conceived around the theme of national integration.
The ceremony, which lasted just over three hours, did not draw a full house as on the opening day, yet was remarkable for throwing up a dance spectacle based on India’s eternal rivers.
The sports protocol, as usual, took precedence over the cultural extravaganza, with the jumbled march-past of the athletes marking the beginning of the show, followed by an energetic contingent of the Games volunteers.
Union Minister of State for Sports Sarbananda Sonowal was the first to address the audience. He said that the Games had been a great revelation of the vast talent pool the country possesses and hoped the Indian team would improve upon its London Olympics performance at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Sonowal also read out a special message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that said “Events like the National Games served as springboards for the country’s young sportspersons to make a mark internationally. I hope that India shall soon be able to realise its true potential in the global sporting arena.”
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy lavished praise on the Kerala contingent for its fine showing and also remarked that the cooperation received from various sections of society had helped the Government and the NGOC host the Games successfully.
IOA president N. Ramachandran, in his presidential address, said the results of the competitions in various disciplines was a clear indicator of the country’s growing prowess in sports and games. Praising the Kerala Government, Ramachandran said the Games were conducted in a most befitting manner. He also condoled the tragic death of Netball player Mayuresh Kumar of Maharashtra, who was present during the opening ceremony.
Chief guest Kerala Governor Justice P. Sathasivam presented the trophy for best performing State to host team captain Preeja Sreedharan and Kerala’s Chef de Mission Wilson Cherian, while the IOA president gave away the Raja Bhalendra Singh Trophy to the Services Sports Control Board, who were the champion team and toppers in the overall medals table for the third time in a row.
Swimmers Sajan Prakash (Kerala) and Aakansha Vora (Maharashtra) were awarded the trophies for being adjudged best performers in the men’s and women’s sections. Olympian Manuel Frederick, a hockey veteran from Kannur, who is the only Keralite to win an Olympic medal, in Munich 1972, was presented a memento.
Justice Sathasivam, in his address before declaring the Games closed, asked sportspersons to uphold Olympic principals.
The Games flame was then doused out and IOA flag was lowered and passed on by the IOA president to Gurudatta D. Bhakta, secretary-general of the Goa Olympic Association, the host of the next edition.
Ammu, the Games mascot, then made an appearance for the last time and was followed by a short artistic presentation by the Goan delegation which showcased the vibrant lifestyle of the people of the State.
The dancers took over thereafter. The highlight was the performance of cine actor and danseuse Shobana who gave an electrifying display. The story in dance form was one of all the major rivers touching each State and region that also brought about the rich diversity and cultural heritage of the country. The flow of these rivers was depicted through various popular dance forms of the particular area.
The show was riveting. Laced with a brilliant pyrotechnic display, it kept the crowd rooted to their seats as the night wore on.