Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa flagged off the torch relay for the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) on Wednesday from this capital of the mountainous state.

Guwahati and Shillong will jointly host the Games from February 6-16. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the Games on February 5 in Guwahati.

Rajkhowa flagged off the torch relay from the Raj Bhavan helipad here which saw participation from about 2,000 students, sportspersons and other sports enthusiasts.

As part of the relay, the torch, which came from Guwahati, was handed over to the governor by the Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education (LNIPE) dean (North Eastern region) Biswajit Basumatary, who is leading the relay team.

Rajkhowa later handed the torch to Anshu Jansempa, the woman record holder Everest from Arunachal Pradesh and first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest thrice.

Earlier, the governor exhorted the sportspersons and youth to take active part in sporting activities and bring laurels for the State and the country. He also called upon the sportspersons to motivate others toward sporting activities, which would ensure physical and mental uplift for the youth.

Congratulating the people participating in today’s torch relay, Rajkhowa wished that the torch relay will inspire the youth of Arunachal Pradesh and Northeast towards spectacular performance in games and sports and they in turn will contribute to the development of youth power in the country and the North East in particular.

The governor conveyed his greetings and best wishes to the participants from Arunachal Pradesh and hoped that they would bring many laurels to the state and the country as a whole.

The Games, which will see India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka compete for honours, will feature 228 events in 23 sports disciplines.

Fifteen disciplines will be played at Guwahati — athletics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, triathlon, hockey, weightlifting, wrestling, squash, shooting, kho-kho, kabaddi, handball, cycling and tennis. Shillong will host seven disciplines — archery, badminton, boxing, judo, table tennis, taekwondo and wushu. Besides, men’s football will be played at Guwahati and women’s football at Shillong.

Meanwhile, sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in Shillong that the 12th South Asian Games will motivate young sportspersons from the north-eastern states.

“The SAG will be a history for the people to remember. It will motivate our young talents from the region, and within a short span, I strongly believed that our sportspersons from north-eastern will dominate in terms of representation of players in various disciplines for India,” Sonowal told IANS.

Admitting that the north-eastern states has miles to go in terms of infrastructure compared to other Indian states, the Union Minister, however, exuded confidence that sports infrastructure would come up in the region with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s in developing the region.

“The Prime Minister has seen the potentiality of the north-east in sports, and talents need to be nurtured. Therefore, he announced the setting up of India’s first national sports university in Manipur,” Sonowal said.

“Once this Sports University comes up, this region would surely produce more Mary Kom (Boxing), Somdev Devvarman (Lawn Tennis), top class players in various sports discipline including football, hockey, and weightlifters and others,” he said.

Moreover, he said the 12thASouth Asian Games co-host by Assam and Meghalaya is a good beginning and this multi-national sports will be a history for the people of the region to remember.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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