Oct 15: A spectacular show of sporting solidarity while showcasing diverse cultural heritage of the country marked the grand opening ceremony of the 4th Military World Games here on Sunday evening.
The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, inaugurated the games by declaring the Games open at the GMC Balayogi stadium, Gachibowli in the outskirts of Hyderabad.
President Pratibha Patil and the Olympic silver medalist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore ignited the Games' flame to mark the beginning of the eight day-long extravaganza touted as the biggest multi-sporting event ever held in India.
The President also released three commemorative postage stamps and a First Day Cover capturing the spirit of the Games on this occasion. These Games are held for the first time outside Europe
Around 5000 military athletes from 101 countries across the World are participating in the Military World Games, which is the biggest game after Olympics.
This is the first time in the history of the Military World Games that more than 100 countries are participating to spread the message of the Game ‘Friendship through Sport’.
A packed stadium of over 30000 spectators cheered and added to the festive spirit of Ramzan. Hyderabad also has the distinction of having hosted the 32nd National Games in 2002, and the 1st Afro-Asian Games in 2003.
Indian Armed Forces helicopter team Saarangi (Peacock) set the tone for the enchanting evening, showcasing Indian military's efficiency and dare-devilry by flying past the stadium four times in as many formations and showering flower petals on the spectators.
This followed by 11 daredevil paratroopers, including the Games mascot 'Bravo' - the great Indian bison descending down the stadium from 8000 ft.
An awe-struck Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) chief Brigadier General Gianni Gola reflected the mood of the evening by calling it a 'magic and unique moment' in the history of Military Games.
''You have done the miracle of bringing more than 100 countries of different cultures, forms of governments, histories, creeds and languages to promote 'Peace and Friendship Through Sport', the motto of the Games,'' Brig Gen Gola said in the august presence of President Patil, Andhra Pradesh Governor Narain Dutt Tiwari, Chief Minister Y Rajasekhar Reddy, Defence Minister K Antony Singh, three service chiefs and a hosts of other diginitaries.
Rajasekhar Reddy, who is also chairman of organising committee, promised to leave no stone unturned to make this event a success.
'' Hyderabad is proud of hosting such a big sporting event and I hope we will host a hugely successful Games. We were always confident that we would do it,'' he said.
Later, the evening was made unforgettable by showcasing of the rich cultural collection of the country, including those of Andhra Pradesh, with performances of 'Tapptagullu', Dhimsa dance, 'Veera Natyam', 'Lambada', 'Gussadi' dance and 'Puliveshalu' keeping the audience spellbound in the nearly four hour programme.
An 11-member Akash Ganga skydiving team of IAF held the audience spellbound with their precise landings with their parachutes carrying the flags of the three Services, CISM, MWG-2007 and formed a pattern of the Indian tricolour breaking off just short of touchdown.
A total of 5000 athletes will now vie for 1205 medals in 13 disciplines of boxing, football, handball, judo, military pentathlon, parachuting, shooting, swimming, track and field, volleyball, wrestling, triathlon and sailing. The last two disciplines will be held in Mumbai.
Five countries -Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives will participate in the Games as observers while China's contingent, consisting of 200 members, is the biggest followed by India with 196 and the United States with 190 competitors.
India is aiming medals mainly from boxing, sailing, wrestling and shooting and its contingent will have marksmen Vijay Kumar and Pemba Tamang who won gold and silver in rapid fire pistol in Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Doha Asian Games gold medallists in sailing Naresh Yadav and C Murgan, Commonwealth champion in 54kg wrestling KL Yadav, Doha Asian Games bronze medallist in 91kg class boxing Verghese Johnson and last World Military Games bronze medallist in boxing KN Belwal.
The World Military Games debuted in Rome in 1995 and was held in 1999 in Zagreb, Croatia and in Catania, Italy, in 2003. Brazil will host the next edition in 2011.
In the previous three editions of the Games, the total number of countries that participated were 93, 82 and 87 figuring 17, 20 and 11 disciplines with 4017, 6734 and 3406 athletes participated in the event.
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