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Assam readies for grand prix

Guwahati, April 24: Heaped with praise for hosting the 33rd National Games successfully, Assam is preparing for another mega sports event. Though on a smaller scale, the second leg of the Asian Grand Prix will be the first international athletics event to be hosted here.

A total of 180 top athletes from across Asia will be seen in action in the day-night one-day meet, where 21 events will be organised.

The grand prix budget of Rs 90 lakh, so close on the heels of the Games, was being viewed as a burden on the stateís coffers. But the offer to host it had to be accepted as chief minister Tarun Gogoi had himself impressed upon Indian Athletics Federation officials Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot that Dispur was willing to host an international event using the new infrastructure.

Asian Athletics Association official C.K. Valson, who inspected the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium today, found that the synthetic track at the venue has yet to receive the International Athletics Associationís certification.

Gogoi and chief secretary P.C. Sarma have assured the Assam Athletics Association of government funding to the tune of Rs 50 lakh and offered to help it raise the remaining amount through sponsorships from the corporate sector.

The Athletics Federation of India has entrusted the association with organising the event. An organising committee has been formed with Gogoi as chief patron.

Sarma has been named its president. Assam Athletics Association president Pradip Buragohain is the secretary general, while secretary Sarif Ullah is the organising secretary. Director of sports Dhruba Hazarika has been named the secretary. Deputy secretary of sports Pranab Bora is the treasurer.

The first Northeast Athletics Meet, to be organised by the newly-formed Northeast Zone of the AFI, which will be on probation for three years before segregation from the East Zone, will be held here between August 15 to 31.

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