India look to big medals haul at Military World Games


New Delhi : India is preparing hard to improve on their lone bronze medal they have won in the Military World Games (MWG) so far.

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Havildar Khemanand Belewal won the bronze in boxing competition at the third MWG in Italy when India made its maiden appearance at the quadrennial games in 2003.

As India prepares to host the fourth MWG at Hyderabad Oct 14-24, the armed forces are training hard to improve their medal haul as well.

“The teams have been training hard at various military establishments around the country and will start moving to Hyderabad from Saturday to familiarise themselves with the competition venues and facilities,” Brigadier Sarvesh Dangwal, chairman of the Games Technical Conduct Committee (GTCC), told newsmen at a media conference here Friday.

“We sent 19 sportspersons and seven officials to Italy for the third MWG and here as hosts we will have the largest contingent of 220 players and officials so we hope to get many more medals than last time,” he added.

More than 4,000 players and officials from 102 countries are expected for the fourth MWG and preparations are in their final stages, Brig. Dangwal informed the media.

“It has been a Herculean task getting ready for these games which are only second to the Olympics in terms of the number of countries taking part. But, as can only be expected of the armed forces, we will be ready Oct 14 for the opening ceremony,” said the GTCC chairman, adding that security at the venues was hardly a matter of concern despite the recent bomb blasts in Hyderabad.

“With great pride we can announce that there have been no withdrawals,” he proudly stated.

Russia, China and Italy have been the top three medal winners are all the previous three MWGs and are once again sending large contingents to Hyderabad, it was revealed.

“North Korea has also entered 175 players and officials for the 10-day competitions in 12 disciplines, which will include non-conventional events like military penathlon and parachuting,” Dangwal revealed.

India expect a rich haul from their boxers, having decided to field top pugilists like Som Bahadur Pun and Ajit Lakra, who are also members of the Indian team for the world championships in Chicago Oct 23-Nov 3.

“Since the MWG boxing competition ends Oct 20, the two will fly straight from Hyderabad to Chicago,” disclosed Colonel P.K. Muralidharan Raja, secretary-general of the Indian Amateur Boxig Federation (IABF).

“Since Chicago is the first qualifying tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the IABF agreed to the Indian Army’s request to allow Pun and Lakra to participate in the MWG just before the world championships,” added Raja, who is also the MWG competition director for boxing.