With Tamil Nadu finishing 14th in the recently concluded National Games, it's time to rethink planning and man-management for such eventsTamil Nadu's medal haul of 10 gold, 21 silver and 20 bronze medals in the National Games at Guwahati cannot be termed impressive. And the fact that the State ended up 14th in the overall position hasn't provided much room for cheer. Though the officials would like to adduce reasons such as the absence of stars in a few events, the truth remains that it was a below-par performance.This despite faring better compared to the last edition of the Games in Hyderabad (10 gold, 13 silver and 23 bronze). However, this is not to take away the focus from some performers who excelled, showing the country the sporting strength of Tamil Nadu. Of the 10 first place winners, five were from athletics, two from weightlifting and two in table tennis and one in basketball.
Creditable performanceIn a multi-disciplinary event such as the National Games, athletics continues to occupy a special place. And Tamil Nadu did quite creditably in the absence of Anju Bobby George, Wayne Peppin, Sangeetha and K. N. Priya. As W. I. Davaram, president, Tamil Nadu Athletic Association, said, "We sent 30 athletes and 15 of them got medals. It's a reasonably good performance." P. Muthusamy won the men's 110m hurdles in a time of 14.61 seconds besting State-mate P. Karuppasamy by a mere 32 seconds. Ranjith Kumar won the men's pole vault with a jump of 4.8m. V. S. Surekha clinched the women's pole vault, while V. Leelavathi and S. Sareswathi emerged winners in the women's 400m hurdles and javelin throw respectively. Twenty-five year-old Benedict Starli from Tamil Nadu finished second in the men's high jump despite creating a new Games record of 2.14m. Up against a motivated and resurgent Hari Shankar Roy, who holds the National record (2.25m), Starli refused to bow down under pressure. Roy cleared 2.14m in his first attempt to bag the gold, while Starli could do it only in his second.Paddler K. Shamini has improved quite a bit over the last couple of years. Her blocks, placements and rare ability to stay calm under pressure, havecatapulted her into a different league altogether. All these were evident during the National Games when she claimed the singles gold. The India No.2 will fancy her chances in the forthcoming National championship to be held at Ajmer. The Tamil Nadu women's team showed its might by clinching the team gold, defeating West Bengal in the final.The last day of the Games saw the Tamil Nadu women's basketball team producing a wonderful display to bag its maiden gold. Consisting mostly of youngsters, Tamil Nadu, guided well by Geetu Anna Jose, thrashed Chhattisgarh in the summit clash. In weightlifting, Sudalaimuthu won gold in the 62kg category while G. Senthil Kumar came first in the 94kg section. With the corpus of talent and infrastructure available, Tamil Nadu is capable of doing far better than the fare it dished out at Guwahati. But, of course, with better planning and prudent man-management. K. KEERTHIVASAN