First-ever Kerala Olympic Games gets underway in Thiruvananthapuram

Thiruvananthapuram: The first-ever Kerala Olympic Games was inaugurated by state Sports Minister V Abdurahiman at the University Stadium here on Saturday.

Athletes, bearing the torch and flag of the Games, took out a march across the city before reaching the inaugural venue.

Olympic medallists Mary Kom, P R Sreejesh, Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang Punia, along with Olympians from Kerala Sajan Prakash, Alex Antony, K T Irfan and M P Jabir accompanied the athletes in an open jeep.

State Finance Minister K N Balagopal awarded the lifetime achievement award to boxer Mary Kom.

Ministers V Sivankutty, G R Anil and Antony Raju presented awards to Sreejesh, Dahiya and Punia respectively. Other Olympians were also felicitated during the event.

The maiden Kerala Games is a mega multi-sporting event organised by the Kerala Olympics Association (KOA).

As part of the Games, which will be held from May 1 to 10, a 21.1 km-long half marathon will be held on Sunday.

The KOA said the prize money for the marathon is Rs 11 lakh for winners under various categories.

The association expects over 1,000 participants in the marathon from across the country.

The Games was originally slated to be held in mid-February but was rescheduled to May in view of the pandemic.

A mega Olympic Expo was also inaugurated.

On December 22, state Education Minister Sivankutty had unveiled the mascot of the Games, a rabbit named Neeraj, in honour of Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

The mascot has been installed at various places across the city.

Athletics, aquatics, archery, basketball, boxing, badminton, cycling, football, wrestling, hockey, judo, karate, kambadi (kabaddi), kho-kho, netball, rugby, shooting, wushu, tennis, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball and weight-lifting will be part of the Games.

Athletes and teams participating in the Kerala Olympic Games were selected through district-level events. More than 8,000 sportspersons are expected to participate in the Kerala Olympics. PTI

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