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A run for a win

Refusing to let initial hiccups lower their morale, hosts of the athletics meet went about their job with an enhanced level of grit that helped them emerge triumphant in the end, says A. JOSEPH ANTONY


RIGHT FROM the railway station onwards, banners, posters, cut-outs and other visual props welcomed participants to the ONGC-junior National athletics championships at Vijayawada.

The terminal building was decked up for the day and illuminated for the night. Just to ensure it was no empty invitation, a large tent was pitched at the entrance where several counters enabled enquiry and assistance.

Announcements in English, Telugu and Hindi urged sportspersons to approach the scores of volunteers or the help-desks. Hardly had the athletes set foot on the platform, they were showered with rose petals, bouquets presented to coaches and the entire contingents offered refreshments of their choice!

Reception committee

The Railways had constituted a reception committee, with M.M. Rao, senior divisional commercial manager, Vijayawada, as its chairman. Assisting it in identifying the sportspersons and directing them to their respective accommodation were scouts and guides. Standing in readiness were buses to cart the athletes to their hotels.


"It was our effort to fine-tune the mood of the athletes on their arrival and foster a feeling of national oneness," said Rao, of the exercise that went off smoothly.

The trading town was only too keen to put its best forward, vis--vis hospitality and warmth. Being its maiden attempt to host a meet of this magnitude, the participants alone numbering 1750 from 24 states and two union territories, there were a few teething problems. For instance, volunteers at the venue, the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation stadium, were aplenty— around 400 of them. Many of them were seen idle, while the Athletics Federation of India's technical committee member Valson, was seen legging it from the field to the office for compilation of the latest results.

Palpable moods

Initially, the food tents seemed disproportionate to the rush. But, it evened out subsequently, the sumptuous fare more than making up for the early hitches. Whatever the lapses, the enthusiasm was palpable if not infectious. At the grassroot level, meaning those actually manning the field, officials mostly from South Central Railways, Hyderabad and Vijayawada divisions, did much of the spade work. In addition to arriving early to make the ground competition-worthy, their duties ranged from firing the starting gun to time-keeping. Keeping tabs on the speed was sprinting great and former national champion, Rami Reddy.For a sport that suffers from lack of sponsorship, the Krishna District Athletic Association, host of the meet, did a commendable job of raising considerable resources to run the show. President of the KDAA, Ramesh Jain, remained calm and composed even in the crunch situations. He maintained a low profile while actually getting things done. Quite visible with his hard work was Vinayak Prasad, the convenor of the meet's technical committee. With regard to the organizational ability, they have miles to go. For a beginner, however, it was a worthy effort.

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