By Rajinder Pal Devgan
Hangzhou, 9 Oct: The closing ceremony on 8 October in Hangzhou finally brought the curtain down on one of the most successful and well organised Asian Games ever.
For India it was a matter of great pride to have crossed the century mark. The final medal tally was a healthy 107.
It was a great honour for India that the President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Raja Randhir Singh declared the games closed.
Without doubt the President of the OCA has won the hearts of the athletes, the officials, the dignitaries and the people of China at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Going around with him to various venues, I could see the love and respect people have for him. He is among the most well known Indian sportspersons among the international sports celebrities. He and his father, Raja Balindra Singh, are highly respected in the international sports fraternity.
Raja Randhir Singh’s charisma also made him the most photographed celebrity. Whereever he went, he was greeted with great warmth and reverence and people wanted to be photographed with him.
His closing ceremony speech was accepted with tremendous applause.
For me, the Games have been an unbelievable experience and a revelation. I am absolutely floored by what I have seen here in Hangzhou, China. The volunteers, young boys and girls from Universities as assistants and escorts always greeted you with a smile and were ever so polite. Observing the younger generation you can see and get the feeling of discipline ingrained in each one of them. There is rule of law and people abide by it.
Yesterday, I took a train trip to a nearby town Shaoxing. The Hangzhou Railway station blew my mind. It is something like our Terminal 3 at the Airport in Delhi! We need to go a long way to catch up with these guys.
In all my travels around, I did not see any litter anywhere- not a piece of paper or plastic. The streets are spotlessly clean.
The penultimate day saw the cricket match washed out and India given the Gold Medal because of higher ranking.
The venue for the game was picturesque. Hills surrounded the cricket field. Considering Cricket is hardly played here, the facilities provided were excellent. The wicket, though a little bouncy, was well prepared.
My assistant, a young girl from a University, among many other Chinese was seeing a cricket match for the first time. I sat next to her and explained to her how runs are scored in singles, twos, threes and boundaries. What running between the wickets is and how a batsman can get run out – had quite a time explaining to her the nuances of the game. I must have done a good job because by the 7th over she understood the game and started enjoying it.
The game itself was tilted in India’s favour when the rain came down and the match had to be abandoned.
The victory ceremony was held in a slight drizzle but didn’t dampen the spirits of the winners.
There was a gold in Badminton Doubles and more Medals in Archery, a great day for India.
To sum it all up, it has been the most successful Asian Games for India and all the athletes have done the nation proud.
The next Asian Games will be held in three years time in Japan.
(RP Devgan is an Educator and Sportsman)