Kerala’s first Olympics begin in Thiruvananthapuram | More sports news

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala’s first ever Olympics were inaugurated by the state’s Sports Minister V Abdurahiman at the University Stadium here on Saturday.
The athletes, carrying the torch and the flag of the Games, marched through the city before reaching the inaugural site.
Olympic medalists Mary Kom, PR Sreejesh, Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia, as well as Kerala Olympians Sajan Prakash, Alex Antony, KT Irfan and MP Jabir accompanied the athletes in an open-top jeep.
State Finance Minister KN Balagopal presented the lifetime achievement award to boxer Mary Kom.
Ministers V Sivankutty, GR Anil and Antony Raju presented awards to Sreejesh, Dahiya and Punia respectively. Other Olympians were also congratulated at the event.
The inaugural Kerala Games are a multi-sport mega event organized by the Kerala Olympics Association (KOA).
As part of the Games, which will take place from May 1 to 10, a 21.1 km half-marathon will take place on Sunday.
The KOA said the prize money for the marathon is Rs 11 lakh for winners in different categories.
The association expects more than 1,000 marathon participants from across the country.
The Games, originally scheduled to be held in mid-February, were postponed to May due to the pandemic.
A mega Olympic expo was also inaugurated.
On December 22, Education Minister Sivankutty unveiled the Games mascot, a rabbit named Neeraj, in honor of Neeraj Chopra, the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.
The mascot has been installed at various locations around the city.
Athletics, water sports, archery, basketball, boxing, badminton, cycling, soccer, wrestling, hockey, judo, karate, kambadi (kabaddi), kho-kho, netball, rugby, shooting, wushu, tennis, tennis table, taekwondo, volleyball and weightlifting will be part of the Games.
Athletes and teams participating in the Kerala Olympics have been selected through district level events. More than 8,000 athletes are expected to participate in the Kerala Olympics.

Naomi C. Amerson