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Monday, July 15, 2024

Peshawar Bids Farewell to the 33rd Pakistan National Games with a traditionally Warm-hearted Closing Ceremony

The recent episode of Pakistan National Games ended with an impressive closing ceremony in Peshawar; with as many as 10,000 Pakistani athletes participating in a series of athletic and sporting events.

The hugely anticipated 33rd National Games, hosted by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), finally kick started on Sunday at the Peshawar Sports Complex, allowing men athletes to participate in 32 games and women athletes in 27 different games. The previous episode took place nine years before.

The yearly festive event, used to be the cornerstone of national sport in the KPK region. However, due to security and financial concerns combined, the Government had failed to plan and organize the spectacle in last decade or so.

Back in 2012, the event was assigned to Balochistan. Reports suggest however, that officials from the Balochistan Government failed to come to terms with expectations with regards to arrangements and execution, despite the Government funding a mammoth Rs.800 million.

This time though, the event successfully took place under tight security measures surrounding the Peshawar Sports Complex.


Peshawar National Games

The event formally started with an opening ceremony that saw legendary singer Salman Ahmad perform to entertain the crowd with his heart-touching national songs. The participating athletes came from the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, and civil authorities such as Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Wapda, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Pakistan Police. The event hosted a diverse range of participants coming from Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and other provinces.

The Quaid-i-Azam Trophy was claimed by the Pakistan Army for the 24th time, after securing 7909 points and 150 gold medals, 134 silver medals and 96 bronze medals. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman awarded the fair play trophy to KP’s gold medalists, Karate champion Murad Ahmad and badminton player Murad Ali.

The games were attended by a large number of officials and public spectators, including Governor KP, President Pakistan Olympic Association Lt. Gen (Retd) Arif Hassan, Secretary Khalid Mehmood, President K-P Olympic Association Syed Aqil Shah, Secretary Sports Kamran Rehman, Managing Director Tourism Corporation Junaid Khan, Director General Sports Asfandyar Khattak and others.

Pakistan Wapda took the second position with 7093 points, and won 148 gold medals, 99 silver medals, and 73 bronze medals. Third on the crown were Pakistan Railways amassing 1815 points, winning 12 gold medals, 20 silver medals and 73 bronze medals. Pakistan Navy secured the fourth position with 1770 points, and won 21 gold medals, 24 silver and 22 bronze medals.

The Pakistan Air Force secured 1426 points, and won 11 gold medals, 16 silver and 31 bronze medals. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team secured the seventh position with 1287 points, and won 2 gold, 5 silver and 34 bronze medals. The HEC secured 11 gold medals, 11 silver and 38 bronze medals, and claimed the 8th position, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team managed to leave the HEC players behind in their surprising victory.

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Pakistan’s women athletes also exhibited a memorable performance at the Games, breaking six out of the nine records. Najma Parveen, an Olympian from WAPDA secured 6 gold medals, and three national records in 200m and 400m hurdles.

WAPDA’s Ghazala Sardar set records in 100m hurdles, while Pakistan Army’s Sidra Bashir set a record in pole vault. Maria Maratab of the Pakistan Army broke the heptathlon record, while WAPDA won the women athletic competitions and secured 14 gold medals, 13 silver and 3 bronze medals.

The verses from Holy Quran were recited by Hina Khan at the interval of event’s grand closing, and later, children from the Agriculture Model School performed on the national anthem.

A Raving Success

The event turned out to be a massive success considering it had been continually postponed in recent times; reports revealing that multiple postponements had led to a grave loss of money setting up training camps and training athletes. However, with admirable efforts of both the Pakistan Olympics Association and the provincial authorities, the event progressed smoothly.

The successful execution of the event has most definitely instilled lost confidence in the nation as a whole, while also bettering KPK’s global image on peace and security.

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The Pakistan Olympic Authority has now laid down a marker clearly stating it will penalize units which fail to organize the games within the given schedule. It is worth applauding contributions of Syed Aqil Shah, head of the KP Olympic Association, for his tremendous efforts at resolving problems during the implementation stage of the event, while undertaking the challenging task of organizing the Games in such a short span of time. His praiseworthy efforts, alongside those of KP’s Chief Minister, Mehmood Khan and Minister Atif Khan, allowed the province to celebrate such a raving spectacle.

The games at the Peshawar Sports Complex were held in a profoundly dynamic setting. Many of the games were held at the Qayyum Sports Complex, and the Hayatabad Sports Complex, while some events were held in Mardan, Abbottabad, Jhelum, Charsadda and other cities.