Quest for Sporting Excellence
here was an air of uncertainty surrounding the North East Olympic Games after the second edition of the sporting event, which was originally scheduled to be held in Arunachal Pradesh, was derailed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic until Meghalaya took the onus to host it this year. The “Scotland of the East” pulled off the event successfully despite taking it up on short notice. The seven-day sporting event not only gave sportspersons from the region a platform to showcase their talents but also strengthened the bond of the eight north-eastern states. The Northeast won. Once again, Manipur emerged champions after defending its 2018 edition title; Assam and Arunachal Pradesh too retained the second and third places respectively. However, it was the host state that surprised everyone, of course a pleasant one, with its spectacular performance in this edition by winning 36 gold, 35 silver and 78 bronze, a huge leap from the sixth place in 2018 to the fourth in the chart table.
Nagaland too put up an impressive show, retaining the fifth position with a haul of 79 medals, including 18 gold, 17 silver and 44 bronze medals, against 6 gold, 9 silver and 27 bronze in the 2018 games held in Imphal. Neiketoule Belho from the state also won best athlete award (men) for winning the 100m and long jump, and Niansai T was awarded best athlete (Under-20 girls) for winning 800m and 1500m at the games. This time, Team Nagaland brought laurels to the state, for which it received accolades from various quarters. It also saved the government and the concerned department from coming under fire, which it received in abundance after the state drew a blank in the recent National Games. The 2nd Nagaland Olympics and Paralympic Games 2022, which was held in August this year, could have helped the sportspersons prepare physically and mentally for the Northeast games in Shillong. By bringing home 23 medals from athletics alone, athletes from the state have sent out a message that they can excel if given an opportunity and facilities to train. In line with the plan to install artificial turf in all districts, which will immensely boost football, the state government should transform sports infrastructure of various disciplines. Only then sportspersons from the state can compete with the best and excel at national and international levels. Sports events like Nagaland Olympics and Northeast Olympics also should be held at regular intervals. Such events can act as a springboard for young talents to excel.