A fine balance: Gymnastics makes stirring debut at Meghalaya Games 2022

Shillong, May 2: Only a few years ago gymnastics was pretty much dormant in Meghalaya but with the efforts of a few dedicated administrators and the love of the sport by a few youngsters, the Meghalaya Gymnastics Association was revived in 2018.

There was no gymnastics at the Meghalaya Games in 2020 and the coming of the Covid-19 pandemic posed a serious obstacle to the sport’s revival.

The MGA did what it could during the period, with the children who were so passionate about gymnastics getting coaching online. The MGA even arranged for its budding gymnasts to take part in events from their own homes, which was far from ideal because of the absence of infrastructure but such was the children’s determination that they even won medals from these national events.

The association also brought in a renowned coach from Manipur, L Baleshwor Singh, who spent months in Shillong at the MGA’s expense training the children.

Twenty-four gymnasts – all girls – spread across four categories based on age took part in vaulting, floor exercise and the balance beam at the 4th Meghalaya Games 2022 at the SAI Indoor Training Centre. The youngest was just six years old and won the heart of all those present by giving it 110%.

Judges scored the girls out of 10 points, with Wandalang Magdalene Malngiang taking gold in Cat 4 (for the oldest girls) in floor exercise. Bakmenhun Shangpliang was first in Cat 3, Wansaphi Bernadette Malngiang in Cat 2 and Ruffina Malngiang in Cat 1.

In vaulting, Wandalang Magdalene Malngiang was the only participant in Cat 4 but still scored a gold-medal deserving 8 points. Josephine Warjri was first in Cat 3 and Sa-i-bakor Tariang in Cat 2.

After lunch was the balance beam, where Ruffina Malngiang took gold in Cat 1, Sa-i-bakor Tariang in Cat 2, Josephine Warjri in Cat 3 and Wandalang Magdalene in Cat 4. The medal ceremony for gymnastics will take place tomorrow afternoon.

Over in basketball, the players were treated to upgraded facilities at the NEIGRIHMS indoor stadium, which boasts of a fully electronic scoreboard, new back boards, a fresh coat of paint and a slight redesign that removed a few staircases that were too close to the playing area.

West Khasi Hills won both the men’s and women’s events in 2020 and the WKH women started 2022 well with a 73-17 victory over South Garo Hills. Ri-Bhoi, meanwhile, defeated West Garo Hills 22-5. East Khasi Hills were completely dominant in their match against South West Khasi Hills, taking the game 50 points to 7. SWKH scored all 7 in the first quarters, with EKH unwilling to let them add to their tally in the other three quarters.

In the men’s division, Ri-Bhoi were 64-35 winners against North Garo Hills, while East Jaintia Hills stormed to victory by 59 points to 29 against South West Garo Hills.

Wushu, in Madanrting, saw two results, with Pyniohnam Marboh of East Khasi Hills defeating Habandajop Kharsahnoh of Eastern West Khasi Hills in the sub-junior boys’ below 28kg. In the below 24kg sub-junior boys’ category,Sammarbiang Kharsahnoh of EKH defeated Nangkhraw Kharsyiemiong of EWKH for gold.

Tomorrow will be the grand opening, with Honourable Chief Minister Shri Conrad K Sangma, who is also the Chief Patron of the event, formally opening the 4th Meghalaya Games 2022 in the presence of Honourable Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Shri Banteidor Lyngdoh, who is also the President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association. The opening ceremony will take place at the SSA Stadium, First Ground, Polo, from 10am.

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