THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Eight days after the Greenfield gala, which sparked debates that spread to the socio-cultural realm, the attention has more or less shifted to athletes and their feats. The flames of scandals still burns, but not as brightly as it was in the prelude to the spectacle. The achievements on the field has leapt to the forefront, and to an extent masqueraded organisational glitches.
The first leg over, and marquee events such as shooting, tennis, swimming and wrestling completed, the time is ripe to take stock. The best indicator of the competence level is to list the national records tumbled. Unfortunately, only one national record has been attained so far, by Services’ weightlifter Vikas Thakur, who set a snatch record of 153kg in the 85kg category. On the other hand, numerous meet records have been breached, swimming alone accounting for 37. So the bottom-line is that in terms of the National Games, this edition has been highly competitive, but not to be mistaken for an overall improvement in quality.
Maybe, athletics, scheduled from Monday, can break the tedium with a clutch of national records. As with most multi-sport events, track and field is the most-awaited fixture. The creme-de-la-creme of Indian athletics is in the fray, and the excitement is perceptible in the city. Already traffic regulations are in place to ease transportation from the Games Village in Menamkulam to the refurbished Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium in the city. Even on the eve of the event, with athletes unremittingly practising, there were quite a few spectators watching and egging them on.
Overall, the response for fashionable events such as tennis, football and wrestling were quite encouraging. Tennis and table tennis had their set of faithfuls, while football and wrestling pull crowd naturally. So did boxing, despite the absence of top pugilists and the remoteness of its venue. Rowing, too, drew crowd, mainly because the venue (Punnamada) has a rich legacy in a variant of rowing, colloquially known as vallamkali (boat race), held passionately across the Central Kerala belt.
Fringe sports, though, went largely unnoticed, even if there was local participation. Pastoral sports like kho-kho, kabbadi and wushu all sneaked under the radar of public notice. The venues too were mostly in the outskirts and there were just a handful of passers-by who had dropped in out of plain curiosity. Until and unless they embrace aggressive marketing, bring administrative stability and stop cribbing about cricket ruining their sport, they will stray further from public consciousness.
Meanwhile, on the leaderboard, Services continued their one-upmanship, though they couldn’t add a single gold to their overnight tally of 42. But that didn’t affect their standing as Maharashtra and Haryana could annex just one more gold to their tally.