THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan on Wednesday declared open the 9th College Games 2015 during a colourful opening ceremony at the Central Stadium here. The three-day meet will see colleges from various universities in Kerala competing for the overall trophy instituted in the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Inaugurating the championship, Thiruvanchoor said that the athletes competing in the Games must be the stars of international track and field tomorrow. “The government has declared Rs 1 crore for the Kerala athlete who wins a medal in the Olympic Games. This must serve as a motivation for all Kerala athletes to perform and compete at the international level,” the minister said.
Thiruvanchoor further said that the state government had already spent Rs 9 crore to distribute the cash awards for the athletes who participated in the 35th National Games. “We are also on the verge of completing the process of employing them in government service. Kerala has taken all measures to retain these athletes rather than lose them to other states,” he said.
“The government will also try its best to increase the cash prize for the overall champions of the College Games which is now Rs 1 lakh,” Thiruvanchoor added. Assumption College are the defending champions of the meet, having won the Games in emphatic fashion last year. Meanwhile, Kerala State Sports Council president Padmini Thomas said that Kerala had the potential to perform well in the international stage, including the Olympics. “College Games was a permanent fixture in Kerala’s sports calendar between 1994 and 2004,” she said.“After a gap of almost a decade, the Sports Council revamped the competition in 2014 and we are receiving a good response from the sports community,” Padmini said. Around 1,500 athletes from colleges in Kerala will participate in events like athletics, aquatics, basketball, volleyball, football, handball and water polo. The Games will be held in various venues across Thiruvananthapuram, including SAI-LNCPE at Kariavattom, International Aquatics Complex in Pirappancode, Jimmy George Indoor Stadium, KSEB Mini Stadium at Pattom and the Central Stadium. In athletics, P U Chithra and Anu Raghavan are among the star attractions.
Olympian K M Beenamol lighted the Games flame during the function, which also saw march-pasts from the participating teams, a performance by the school band of Carmel GHSS kalaripayattu display and other cultural programmes. V Sivankutty MLA, Shafi Parambil MLA, KSSC secretary Binu George Varghese and SAI Kerala director G Kishore were present during the ceremony.