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Khelo India: How J&K Sports Council played against the storm and won

Srinagar:  Behind the glittering ceremony of the Khelo India event lies a heroic battle of unsung heroes of the J&K Sports Council against the nature’s fury in the Gulmarg bowl.

Battling snow blizzard, high-speed winds, and inclement weather, Sports Council honchos and security forces went all out to recreate the podium and stalls within six hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled address to inaugurate the Khelo India winter games.

It all happened at 3 am on Thursday when suddenly the weather played rough. High-speed winds and snow blizzard swept away tents and stalls besides uprooting LCD screens and other infrastructure created for the inauguration ceremony.

However, Sports Council engineers and employees and rose to the occasion and risked their lives to restore the facilities in a record time. 

Led by Sports Council Secretary Nuzhat Gul, entire men and machinery reached the spot despite pitch darkness and high-speed winds.

As many as 1200 participants including 600 athletes across 27 States and Union Territories had descended on Gulmarg to participate in winter games. 

Besides, union sports minister Kiren Rijiju and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha were to address the participants on Thursday. Prime Minister was to e-inaugurate the event from New Delhi.

“When going gets tough, the tough get going. It was the same situation for us. It was the courage of my boys, security forces, and our engineering staff that we overcame nature’s fury. On one call, everyone rushed to the spot and started work again. By the grace of God, everything was restored by 8 am,” Nuzhat told The Kashmir Monitor.

Troops from High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS), Border Security Force (BSF), and other forces immediately launched the restoration work despite inclement weather. 

Tents were pitched again. Flags, which were uprooted, were erected again. Flower decoration was done within hours. “In the morning, everyone was surprised to find that everything is ok. They had feared that event may be shifted because of the weather. But when they came, they found everything in place. It was something which was really remarkable,” said an officer.

Sportsmanship also played a crucial role in the restoration work. Even the sportspersons, who had come from different states, did not crib and joined the efforts to ensure that the event passes off peacefully. 

A number of events including Sprint, Speed Skating, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Ice Stock, Giant Slalom, Snow Boarding, Vertical Race, Cross Country, Snowshoe, Long-distance running, Ski Mountaineering, Skiing, and Nordic Ski will be held during the weeklong Khelo- India National Games.

Organized jointly by the J&K Sports Council and the Winter Games Association of J&K under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the event will conclude on March 2.