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Olympic medal winners Bajrang Punia, Ravikumar Dahiya, PR Sreejesh, Mary Kom during the inauguration ceremony of first Kerala Games. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Kerala is giving a major push to its dream of getting more Olympic medals with an Olympic-style Kerala Games to unearth talents from grassroots levels and also give international exposure at the district level.

The 10-day first Kerala Olympic Games concluded on Monday with more than 8,000 talented athletes taking part in 24 disciplines at the state capital in Thiruvananthapuram.

“It is the flagship, multi-discipline event of the Kerala Olympic Association (KOA), which is designed in such a way that sportspersons will get the international experience from the district level, something similar to National Games,” said S Rajiv, Secretary General of Kerala Olympic Association.

Creating sports culture

“While giving the athletes an additional platform to compete against each other, KOA intends to educate the sportspersons, sports administrators and regional officials on multi-discipline activity and to create a new sports culture by adopting a result-oriented approach,” he added.

The athletes competed in athletics, aquatics, archery, basketball, cycling, boxing, football, judo, netball, taekwondo, volleyball, wrestling, badminton, handball, kho-kho, karate, table tennis, hockey, kabaddi, rugby, rifle, wushu, tennis and weightlifting. The half-marathon, held as part of the Games, had attracted participants from across the country.

“The Games have given a refreshing restart to the sports arena that was shattered by Covid,” said V Sunil Kumar, President of Kerala Olympic Association. “The Kerala Games will provide more opportunities for sports talents dreaming of Olympic medal.”

Mary Kom
Mary Kom and Sreejesh during a road show as part of the Kerala Olympic Games 2022. Image Credit: Supplied

The biennial Games got off to a colourful ceremony with Olympic medallists Mary Kom and PR Sreejesh inaugurating it along with various ministers on May 1. Neeraj, the rabbit, was the mascot of the Games, in honour of Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to win Olympic gold medal in track and field.

Understanding of game protocol

Apart from competitions, the Games provided an opportunity for sportspersons, administrators and officials alike on the understanding of top sporting events that will give them the requisite exposure for the national and international-level events.

“The game protocol will bring the quality of competitions and the conduct of the events on par with the national level. It will also be a chance to educate technical officials on various changes in the rules and regulations of the discipline and help them to be on par with international standards,” Rajiv added.

Harikumar, Managing Director, UAE-based Elite group, the sponsors of the event, said: “Kerala is a state dreaming of an individual Olympics medal for long time. This new initiative will provide more opportunity for the talented young athletes in the state. I believe someone from this Games will climb the Olympic podium one day.”