Focus on youth at State Games

Over 3000 athletes in 23 events to participate in the meet

Focus on youth at State Games

After an eight-year gap, the third edition of the Karnataka State Olympic Games will be held in the twin cities of Hubballi and Dharwad from Friday.

The Games, jointly organised by the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) and the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) was last held in Mandya and Mysuru in 2008.

Dharwad, a cultural and academic hub of the State, will set the ball rolling with the inaugural ceremony on Friday at the Dr RN Shetty multi-purpose stadium. Incidentally, it is the first sports meet at the stadium after the newly-laid synthetic track was inaugurated three months ago.

Over 3000 sportspersons in 23 disciplines are set to participate in the meet which returns to North Karnataka after a gap of 30 years. The inaugural edition of the Games took place in Bagalkot in 1986-87.

While Dharwad will host majority of the competitions, Hubballi will host four events (cycling, volleyball, kabaddi and swimming). Two sports — rifle shooting and tennis — will be conducted in Bengaluru. Owing to lack of participants, triathlon, which was to be held in Bengaluru, has been cancelled.

The organisers have not announced any prize money for the winners yet but the government’s decision to provide financial support and required exposure to the top performers of the Games should push the athletes to produce a competitive show.

“We are going to identify the top performers and they will be included in the top 1000 sportspersons of the State list. These winners of the Games will receive support from corporates and the government,” said Sports Minister Pramod Madhwaraj.

Based on their performances in the State and National championships last year, top eight athletes in the men’s and women’s categories have been selected for individual events of the Games.

Top eight teams, which featured in the State championships last year, have been chosen for team events.

While the absence of big guns in many disciplines could take some sheen off the Games, the youngsters could consider it as their chance to make a mark. Training for upcoming season, the seasoned trio of Ashwini Akkunji, MR Poovamma and Sahana Kumari have given the Games a miss.

“Sprinters HM Jyothi and Reena George are the only senior names in the women’s section. However young talents like decathlete Abhishek N Shetty (National Games and Federation Cup champion) and sprinter Kiran (100M gold medallist in Junior Federation Cup) will make the event competitive,” said Chandrashekar Rai, secretary, Karnataka Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA).

While badminton will witness most of the top performers of last year, local lad Abhishek Yeligar and Mysuru’s Hemanth Gowda will miss out due to national duties.

In swimming, spotlight will be on the experienced Arvind M, Avinash M and Lohith K while Damini K Gowda, who is preparing for her exams, will not be seen in action.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will inaugurate the Games at 3.00 pm at Dr R N Shetty Stadium.

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