Goa is in sight of eight gold medals – six in boxing and two in sailing – as we reach the penultimate day of the 37th National Games and the role of imported players in the State finishing on the 12th position with a medal tally of 50 – 12 gold; 12 silver and 26 bronze – being very evident.
Hosts Goa will the start the day before the closing ceremony on a high, for six gold in boxing pawed by five players loaned from Army Sports Institute Pune and one from Manipur.
Goa is assured of silver or gold in IQ Foil women as the contest is between two contestants – Goa’s Katya Coelho and Ishwariya Ganesh. And Dayne Coelho, who finished seven points ahead of his closest rival Jerome Kumar from Services, is close to finishing with either a gold or silver.
The sport of beach handball, which ought to have been a bonanza for Goa, saw the host failing to qualify for the men and women's semifinals, despite the latter having got a walkover in the last group match against West Bengal.
Goa men won their last group match against Andhra Pradesh convincingly 17-13, 22-14 but the other results meant it was time for deep soul searching.
“We had no time to practice together and hence it was difficult. Many of us were called at the last minute because the girls brought from another State had to go back as their State did not give them the NOC,” stated a disheartened women’s team player.
“I think this was not our nationals to celebrate and I am sure the girls will come back stronger next time now that we have seen competition at the highest level. Lack of match practice cost us,” explained Goa women team coach Yasmin Khan.
Despite the presence of loaned players in the men’s team, they impressed with Ugam Prabhudesai of Goa saving all three penalties won by their opponents from Andhra Pradesh.
“Just 30 per cent of our players were from outside as stipulated by the government,” stated handball president V M Prabhudesai. He, however, could not explain how Hindi was the spoken language during play.
“The indoor handball teams failed because the teraflex floor was laid just a day before the contest and once basketball and the other games started, we had to practice on clay surface for 15 days,” said Prabhudesai, whilst reasoning Goa’s dismal performance in indoor handball.
With the both handball teams out and Goa winning one medal in yogasana, of which Prabhudesai is also the president, the former Executive Director of Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) was at loss of words to explain how he broke his own rule of one man for one association.
“After my retirement, I was emotionally blackmailed by both associations to take over. I know I had made the rule of one president for one association but I took up these two posts to help them for the national games. I will quit after the games,” assured Prabhudesai.
Maharashtra, Services and Kerala start the second last day of the 37th National Games with a baggage of 203, 112 and 146 medals, respectively. Manipur is in the sixth position with 26 gold and a tally of 70 medals.