Harpal Singh Bedi
Ahmedabad: Tokyo Olympics silver medalist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu London Olympics silver medalist shooter Vijay Kumar, shooter Elavenil Valarivan and gymnast Pranati Nayak will be the star attractions as the 36th National Games gathers steam on Friday, with competitions in nine more sports beginning a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the Games open at a spectacular ceremony.
The women’s 10m Air Rifle contest featuring home favourite, Olympian Elavenil Valarivan and Bengal’s Mehuli Ghosh will also capture attention at the Ahmedabad Military and Rifle Training Centre here.
On a day when three Shooting gold medals will be decided, Vijay Kumar’s comeback will also be watched with much interest.
Besides Weightlifting, Friday will offer athletes in Archery, Athletics, Fencing, Gymnastics, Kho-Kho, Roller Sports, Rowing and Wrestling the opportunity to showcase their skills on the grandest stage in Indian sport. There will also be gold medal matches in Rugby 7s in Ahmedabad and Netball in Bhavnagar.
In IIT Gandhinagar, the entries of Commonwealth Games medallists Sandeep Kumar and Priyanka Goswami headline the 20km walk events for men and women respectively. And in the wake of the success of Triple Jumpers Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker in the Commonwealth Games, considerable attention will be focused on the jumping pit as well.
Not far from IIT, the Mahatma Mandir complex will spring alive with medals on offer in Weightlifting, Fencing and Wrestling while the picturesque Sabarmati Riverfront will have the best of India’s Rowing and Roller Sports athletes on view. And in the sylvan settings of the Sanskardham School, Archery and Kho-kho competitions will get underway.
The National Games caravan, which has already touched the cities of Surat and Bhavnagar besides Ahmedabad, will roll into Vadodara with the Gymnastics competition starting on Friday. The men and women’s team medals in Artistic Gymnastics will be the first to be decided in the five-day competition.
Pranati Nayak ( Bengal) and Protistha Samanta (Tripura) as well Satyajit Mondal (West Bengal) and Saif Tamboli (Services), who competed in the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham are among the gymnasts who will hold the fans at the Sama Indoor Sports Complex in thrall with their talent that combines power and grace.
The Table Tennis events were held in Surat last week to facilitate the country’s best to compete before heading to China for the World Championships. The early phase of competition in Kabaddi, Rugby 7s and Tennis in Ahmedabad as well as Netball in Bhavnagar started a couple of days ago. Lawn Bowls in Dholera and the 25m Rapid Fire pistol event here have seen some action already.