Goa's medal quest in badminton and netball has come to an end; athletes of Sqay Martial Arts have joined those in badminton and boxing in revolt for being sidetracked; workers are frantically trying to erect temporary structures to host disciplines at the Campal Sports Village. This was the scene as curtains came down on the third unofficial day of the 37th National Games, two days before the big opening.
The string of postponements in hosting the games has led it to start with a stutter caused by protests from athletes in three disciplines, until now, and with two games almost over, Goa’s Anura Prabhudesai was the only one who came close to winning a medal but failed to finish, and the men and women netball teams failed to qualify after losing all their group matches.
With badminton starting first, the hope was on Anura who had it all in her bag to finish off with an individual medal. Pitied against India No 1 Aakarshi Kashyap, Anura who trailed her rival 17-19 bagged four straight points to comfortably win the first set 21-19.
Anura narrowly led her rival till the four-point mark and after an initial hiccup regrouped herself by pushing Aakarshi to the back and killing off the game with crafty finishes.
The second set saw the girl from Goa initially trail until she pulled away to a 20-17 match point lead and when it seemed she was on her way to being the first Goan to win an individual medal, Anura, instead of going in for the kill, played across, giving her opponent ample of opportunities to draw level and take the set 25-23.
The decider witnessed Aakarshi’s physical dominance over her counterpart with Anura trailing right through and when it was 7-13 against her, calling the game off in favour of her opponent. “My tendon started hurting during the decider. I had played too many team games before and that had its effect,” Anura disclosed after the match.
With the medal prospects in badminton ended, the focus shifted to netball where the hopes and aspirations of coaches of team Goa were nullified as the men and women finished having lost all their games in their respective groups thus being unable to qualify further.
The Goa men lost to Haryana 45-52; Maharashtra 54-56 and Jammu and Kashmir 50-52 and the women lost to Haryana 45-52; Himachal Pradesh 38-44 and Telangana 46-52.
With Goa out of badminton and netball, the focus is now on gymnastics but the protest by Sqay Martial arts sportspersons and their parents has brought a blimp to the games – one that shows how politics vitiates sports.
Sqay has some sportspersons in Goa upset and even in tears because many are now realising their chances of representing their State are slim because the sport has found itself embroiled in a controversy that directly affects them.
In a nutshell, the Sqay Federation of India has been in a wrangle with two Naiks from Goa at either end of the barrel and sportspersons from the State in the middle.
“The Chief Minister intervened and tried to accommodate sports people from both warring factions. But there is a limit that one can accommodate and therefore some needed to be kept out,” disclosed a senior member of Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, entry for the inaugural ceremony by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been curtailed to 8,000 from the original 15,000 due to security reasons. “The number of children has been reduced to 5,000 from the original 12,000 and the remaining 3,000 seats are for workers of the ruling party,” disclosed a source.