It was an evening of mixed emotions and sombreness as the curtains came down on the 12th South Asian Games 2016 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati Tuesday evening.
The 12-day sporting extravaganza ended with a closing ceremony that complimented a grand opening ceremony suitably showcasing the rich culture of the host region. Filled with unbridled excitement and fervour of the participants and people , the stadium at Sarusajai exploded in revelry and celebration of the sports , friendship and togetherness.
India, hosting the Games for the third time after Calcutta (1987) and Madras (1995), overwhelmingly dominated the 12th edition by grabbing an unprecedented 308 medals (188 gold, 90 silver, 30 bronze) and stamped their superiority as an unrivalled region sporting power.
Sri Lanka were a distant second with 25 gold, 63 silver and 98 bronze while Pakistan ended at third with 12 gold, 37 silver and 57 bronze.
India, in fact, bagged more than three-fourth of the total 239 on offer in 23 disciplines.
This was a great achievement by India, in the previous edition of the game, which were held in 2010, India has won 175 medals in total. London Olympics bronze-medalist M.C. Mary Kom (51kg), former world champion L. Sarita Devi (60kg) and Asian Games bronze winner Pooja Rani (75kg) picked up the top honours in their respective categories.
The Games, which were inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 5 during a spectacular opening ceremony, had been quite a success on the sporting front though there were organisational issues, including provision of media facilities.
The closing ceremony began with performances by eight live bands from across the North Eastern states before the official closing ceremony started.
Speaking on the occasion, the Assam Chief Minister Shri Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Guest said, adding that he hoped the Games will help boost trade and tourism among the eight South Asian countries who participated in the meet. He said that all the stake holders worked hard to make the games a grand success.
Thanking both Assam and Meghalaya for the successful holding of the 12th SAG, Union youth affairs and sports minister Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, who is also the chairman of the organising committee, 12th SAG, said the event assumed great significance because all the eight countries participated in it with a pledge to promote peace in South Asia. He said that Successful conduct of these games had written a golden page in the history of North Eastern region and had thus not only set a quality benchmark for conduct of future games but also had given an astounding boost to the confidence of the North East region to host much bigger international sporting events in future. He said that the games had also provided a huge boost to the sports infrastructure in Guwahati and Shillong for the sportspersons in this region to hone their sporting skills.
Speaking in the occasion, Chairman OC expressed his gratitude to the Prime Minister of India for giving his blessings to the games and declaring the Games open on 5th February and thanked Team South Asian Games which included the officials of the Organising Committee, Union Government, Governments of Assam and Meghalaya, Indian Olympic Association, South Asia Olympic Council, and all the sports federations.
He also specially thanked the people of Assam and Meghalaya and volunteers who rallied around and provided their fullest cooperation, support and enthusiasm making these games a resounding success.
Shri Sarbanand Sonowal Chairman of OC and Minister of State(I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports added that South Asian Games had given to the people of SAARC region to interact with each other, reaffirm the ties of history and culture and foster mutual understanding and develop an unbreakable bond of oneness and togetherness. He hoped that coming together of 8 countries. would pave a way for enhanced economic, social and meaningful cooperation among the countries of SOUTH ASIA and would go a long way in promoting friendship, understanding, peace and prosperity in the SAARC region.
The official closing ceremony, that was attended among others by Nepal sports minister Shri Satya Narayan Mandal and Nepal Olympic Association president Shri Ram Kumar Shrestha, ended with Shri Sonowal and Indian Olympic Association president Shri N Ramachandran handing over the SAG flag to Shri Mandal and Shri Shrestha. The ceremony was also attended by Meghalaya sports minister Shri Zenith Sangma and Union sports ministry secretary Shri Rajiv Yadav, IOA secretary general Shri Rajiv Mehta and a host of dignitaries from the two host states.
Bands from the north eastern region, Still Waters (Sikkim), The Soul Rebels (Arunachal Pradesh), Salvator (Manipur), Boomarang (Mizoram) and Purple Fusion (Nagaland) rocked the stage since afternoon to create the ambience for a befitting end to the mega event.
The cultural show culminated with Bollywood singer Shaan’s performance which was preceded by shows from the legendary picBob Dylan of Meghalaya Lou Majaw, Priyanka Bharali, Dr Sangita Kakati, Mousam Gogoi and Mayukh Hazarika's The Brahmaputa Balladeers and others before a packed crowd.
Athletes from the eight nations -- Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India -- were accompanied by 1200 volunteers into the stadium during the march past.
The Games involved about 4500 participants, including around 2600 athletes, in 22 disciplines held in Guwahati and Shillong.
An unprecedented security arrangement ensured a smooth conduct of the 12-day event without any hitch across the two cities of Guwahati and Shillong.
Gold Medal Silver Medal Bronze Medal Total
INDIA 188 90 30 308
SRI LANKA 25 63 98 186
PAKISTAN 12 37 57 106
AFGHANISTAN 7 9 19 35
BANGLADESH 4 15 56 75
NEPAL 3 23 34 60
MALDIVES 0 2 1 3
BHUTAN 0 1 15 16