Around 1k participants expected in cross country championships
Kohima, Feb. 22 (EMN): The Nagaland Athletics Association (NAA) on Tuesday informed that 800 to 1000 athletes and participants are expected to take part in the upcoming South Asian Cross Country Championships and the 56th National Cross Country Championships scheduled to be held on March 26 at Indira Gandhi stadium in Kohima.
Addressing a press conference in Kohima, NAA President Abu Metha said that they are expecting participants from every affiliated state and union territory.
We have also received confirmation of participation from all the South Asian Countries under the banner of South Asian Athletic Federation (SAAF) and formalities are underway to clear their visas and permits. About 800 to 1000 athletes and participants would assemble in Nagaland for the event, he added.
The Indian team for the World Asian and Commonwealth Championships of cross country will be selected from this event. Winners will be selected to represent India at various levels — under-16, under-18, under-20 and seniors, Metha informed.
The event which was supposed to be held earlier had been postponed due to Covid-19 restriction.
Metha, who is also the associate vice president of Athletics Federation of India (AFI), informed that Union Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur has consented to attend the event while Chief Minister of Nagaland Neiphiu Rio will be the convener of the organising committee.
Besides, eminent athletes — Anju Bobby George and PT Usha — are also expected to attend the event and motivate youngsters with their presence. The two prominent athletes are expected to arrive before the event and interact with young sportspersons from Nagaland and the North East.
Officials and delegates from South Asian countries would also be attending the annual general meeting of the SAAF, which will take place in Kohima.
This is going to be Nagaland’s biggest sporting event in 50 plus years of statehood. Nagaland has not hosted an international event of this magnitude till now. Moreover, this is a recognised event under the AFI, Indian Olympic Association and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Ministry has already given its clearance for conduct of this event, he said.
He appealed to the citizens to support and make the event a success.
Speaking further on the kinds of races for the event, he said there were different races for different age groups, ranging from 1 to 10 kilometer races as per guidelines of World Athletics. Runners will run around the periphery of IG stadium. It will be centered in and around the periphery of IG stadium, he added.
He also informed that they would be conducting trials on March 2 for Team Nagaland and give opportunity to those who could not join in the last trials. The selected players will join an intensive coaching camp and at the end of the camp, Team Nagaland will be announced.
‘We have to up our game and give opportunities to youngsters. It is not every day that a national and an international event are brought to the backyard. We have to travel a thousand miles for this. But when you are the host state, you get direct entry even when you are not qualified and that experience is priceless’, Metha asserted.
‘From the administrative point of view, if such an event is not brought, one cannot dream of bringing bigger events in the future. Nagaland has the dream of organising North East Olympics and national games and why not. This is the ambition and aspirations of the Naga youth and we got to start somewhere. This is a big step we are taking today. It is going to be historic,’ he said.
The association also launched the Team Nagaland kit for the athletic event. It claimed that the quality of the uniform is the same as the uniform worn by Team India in the last Olympic games. “We want our sportspeople to wear the best”, he added.
The Nagaland Athletic Association also congratulated the Indian Olympic Association for winning the bid to host the next international Olympic committee session in Mumbai.