Warangal: For the first time in sports history, a tier-II city in Telangana State – Warangal – will host the five-day 60th National Open Athletics Championships (NOAC)-2021, beginning Wednesday. This major achievement was made possible due to the collective efforts of the Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS), Telangana Athletics Association and the district administration. This mega event is being organised by the Warangal District Athletics Association under the auspices of Athletics Federation of India, SATS and Telangana Athletics Association from September 15 to 19 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (JNS) near the bus station in Hanamkonda.
“A total of 519 athletes from 21 states and five units including All India Police, Indian Railways, Life Insurance Corporation of Indian (LIC), ONGC Sports Board and others will participate in this national level sports event,” Athletics Association District President Errabelli Varada Rajeshwar Rao told Telangana Today.
“Construction of a 400-meter eight-lane synthetic track complying fully with the requirements of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at a cost of about Rs 7.50 crore at the JNS helped us to get this prestigious sports event to Warangal. Though we conducted the 25th National Junior Athletics Championships in the same venue in 2009, conducting NOAC is the biggest achievement and also a challenge for us. We must understand that such a big event was not conducted even in united Andhra Pradesh. We achieved this feat due to the coordinated efforts of the Telangana Athletics Association, district minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao, and the district administration,” Rajeshwara Rao said, adding that they had tried to get the funds sanctioned from the Centre for the synthetic track, which is a must to conduct the NOAC, for the last six-and-a-half years.
Expressing similar views and happiness, noted athletics coach and Dronacharya awardee Nagapuri Ramesh said: “I feel very proud that my home town, Warangal, will be hosting such a big event which would remain in the annals of history. Warangal is famous for its historical places like Fort Warangal and Thousand Pillar Temple, and now, I hope it will emerge as a sports hub too.”
Speaking about the Telangana government’s efforts to encourage sports talent, Warangal West MLA and chairman of Organising Committee of the NOAC-2021, Dasyam Vinay Bhaskar said the State government under the visionary leadership of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao was according high priority to sports. “Construction of the synthetic track at the JNS will surely help local talent a lot in the future. We can organise some more national level events in the future,” he added.
Warangal police commissioner and Executive President of the Organising Committee Dr Tarun Joshi said that they had made all security arrangements and were following COVID-19 protocol. He appealed to the people to come and enjoy this national athletic event. A total of 40 sports lovers have been appointed as volunteers to help the organising committee. “We have also made a special campaign to publicise the event by conducting cycle rally and flash mob events besides setting up seven big LED screens at important public gathering places in the city,” Joshi said, adding that accommodation for the athletes was made according to their choice, while accommodation for the officials was made by the organising committee.
Rajeshwar Rao said the Kakatiya Urban Development Authority (KUDA) and Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC) also helped by improving basic amenities including construction of CC roads and others at the stadium.
Meanwhile, Telangana Athletics Association General Secretary K Sarangapani said: “We must thank Vinod Kumar, former IAS officer B Papa Rao and ‘Khelo India’ Director Chandrashekhar Rao for their efforts in getting the track sanctioned under the ‘Khelo India’ initiative. The construction was completed in July this year, while it was sanctioned in September 2018. The track has eight lanes for a 400-metre run and 10 lanes for a 100-metre sprint. A special drainage facility has been provided to prevent waterlogging on the track. The District Collector sanctioned Rs 91 lakh for other works like painting of stands.”
“As Warangalites, we very much delight that a national level sports event is going to be held in this city,” said Dr Pingili Ramesh Reddy, former Professor of Physical Education Department, Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Science (KITS), Warangal.
The National Cross Country Championships (2003 and 2019), South Zone Nationals in 2006 and Third Youth under 18 years Boys and Girls National Championships in 2006 were also conducted at the JNS in the past.
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