Gulmarg hosts First Chapter of Khelo India Winter Games 2020
Organized by the Sports Council and the Winter Games Association of Jammu & Kashmir, Khelo India Winter Games is the first mega sports event held in Kashmir since the Centre revoked its special status last August.
“This is a historic event not only for J&K but, the whole country. Those who are here today at this place are lucky. This is the beginning of mega sports events in Gulmarg. More mega-events are in the pipeline for this place,” Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said when he inaugurated the games.
Designed under the national program for the development of sports, Khelo India, the 2020 chapter of the Winter Games had seen an array of snow-based sports and games. Located in two regions of Jammu & Kashmir, the Ladakh chapter of the Winter Games began on the third week of February; its counterpart was located in a ski resort in Gulmarg and started on the first week of March from the 7th to the 11th.
“It’s going to be a big event in which around 800 to 900 sportsmen will be taking part in different events,” Director General Youth Services and Sports, Saleem-ur-Rehman said.
A snow-covered Gulmarg had come alive with around 992 sportspersons from across the country. The five-day event had seen around thirty events, cross-country games and a snow show at the venue located at an altitude of 8,694 feet.
“There will be 30 events under four disciplines,” said an official of J&K Sports Council, one of the organizers of the event, “and other games will be held for local students.’’
The age standard for the events was categorized as follows: 19-21 years, 17-18 years, 15-16 years and 13-14 years. Belonging to 20 states pan India, these athletes and sports officials participated in Alpine ski, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, snow derby, snow rugby, snow baseball and other snow-based sports.
Manali, Gulmarg’s neighbor, was the latest to engage in snow-based sports competitions. Nearly 200 athletes of the state who thronged for Himachal Skiing and Snowboarding Championship had gathered on the slopes of Solang valley. Following a similar fashion, the Khelo India Winter Games was excelled at – the Indian Army’s ski team won 20 medals (highest in number) in different categories along with ‘Championship Trophy’. Players of this ski team are posted at High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) at Gulmarg which is the nodal agency for training winter games and snow-craft.
Winning a total of 10 medals, the Uttarakhand skiing and snowboarding team secured third place. Distributed among the 16 member team, Uttarakhand won three gold medals, two silvers and five bronze medals.
Later, the team members were felicitated by Uttarakhand’s chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and the State’s Tourism secretary Dilip Jawalkar. While the players shared their experience, Jawalkar said that in the future skiing and snowboarding competitions will be organized in a better manner at Auli so that the local youth can derive the maximum benefit.
In terms of agenda, the Winter Games was organized with the intent to produce champions in athletic disciplines in India. “There are no better means than sports to channelize the energy of youth in the right direction,” Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said.