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Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated with fanfare the country’s biggest sports meet, aptly named as ‘Swarnim Khel Mahakumbh, being held in the state’s golden jubilee at the Police Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Nearly 16-lakh participants from all the towns and 18,000-odd villages have registered their names for competition in a dozen games. They would be held at different taluka, district and municipal corporation levels, culminating in state-level semi-finals from December 8 to 12, and the finals at the Khokhra-Memco Sports Complex in Ahmedabad on December 13 and 14, 2010. The competition will be held under-16 as well as open categories for boys and girls.

The highlights of the opening ceremony attended by a large number of public were yoga feats by 3,500 students, theme song, myriad dance forms to the drumbeats of percussion instruments from different parts of the country.

Gold medalist from Gujarat at the just concluded Commonwealth Games Lajja Goswami led the torch rally, as Mr. Modi handed over the torch to world chess champion Vishwanath Anand.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi expressed his resolve to create a sports culture and sporting spirit in the state, make sports an inseparable part of life among the youth, and to build a talent pool of outstanding sportspersons, through this month-long carnival.

He regretted that a nation of 100-crore people could not win medals worth the mention in international games and sports. Nearly 16-lakh people taking part in a single sports event is in itself a history. Nobody perhaps ever cared to dream on this line. It is also an occasion when the organizers went to the doorsteps of the poor and involve their participation. However, he does not expect wonders from just one sports meet. It is just a beginning to scale new heights, he said.

Earlier, Sports Services and Youth Activities Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela in his welcome address wished the event will build a strong and competitive Gujarat, and its people would earn laurels at national and international meets.

Prominent among those present on the occasion included Ahmedabad’s Guardian Minister Anandiben Patel, Law Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Ahmedabad Mayor Asit Vora, MPs and MLAs, Chief Secretary A.K. Joti, Sports Secretary Bhagyesh Jha and Sports Authority of Gujarat Dirctor-General Vikas Sahay.

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