It was a historic moment in more ways than one as thousands took to the streets across Kerala to pledge their support to the 35th National Games and turned ‘Run Kerala Run’, the key promotional event ahead of the January 31-February 14 Games, to a success on Tuesday.
The mass race at all the 21 mega points, 226 mini mega points and over 10,000 ordinary points equally attracted an impressive crowds, notably in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi where the star attractions were cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and actor Mohanlal.
It also seemed a good augury as controversies with regard to the preparations of the Games that had rattled the State through the last three or four weeks looked as if to have vanished into thin air all of a sudden when leaders across the political divide jostled to make their presence felt and joined the race to rub shoulders with excited men and women, young and old and boys and girls.
In fact, it was a patient wait for most of the participants as people in large numbers were seen in the streets as early as from 8.30 a.m., a good two hours prior to the appointed hour. At the South gate of Government Secretariat here, police had to virtually struggle to keep the crowd at bay before Mr. Tendulkar joined Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed and Speaker of the Kerala Assembly G. Karthikeyan.
The Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam administered a pledge to the participants before flagging off the race. However, with the entire stretch marked for the race remaining crowd, the lead group could hardly break off into a run and had to virtually walk through the distance before reaching the Central stadium. In the public function which followed, Mr. Chandy stressed about the importance of unity among various sections of society in building up a strong Kerala. “The lesson here is that we should remain one if Kerala is to make progress,” he said.
Mr. Tendulkar seemed to be bowled over by the adulation of his fans. Prefacing his address with the salutation, “Namaskaram”, he hoped that the people would show responsibility in making the National Games, the best ever.
“Kerala has always held a special place in my heart and I am sure that you will extend support to the National Games in the same vein you have supported Kerala Blasters,” he said.