Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], September 28 (ANI): Far away from the hustle and bustle of a multi-sporting event, Lawn Bowls would normally have made a quiet entry and an even quieter exit, with only a few connoisseurs enjoying the show.
Come Wednesday, though, it is expected to get underway with much fanfare in the 36th National Games at the Kensville Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
The gold-winning performance by the women's team (Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia, Lovely Choubey and Rupa Rani Tirkey) and the silver effort by the men team's (Sunil Bahadur, Navneet Singh, Chandan Kumar Singh and Dinesh Kumar) during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games recently has truly changed the dynamics for the sport.
"Yes, our Commonwealth Games performances this year could well be a game-changing moment for the sport," 27-year-old Navneet Singh, who will represent Delhi and was part of the victorious Indian squad, said. "It is truly exciting that a lot of people will be following us in the National Games. Suddenly, parents are interested in putting their children into this game," he added.
Jharkhand started as a favourite in both the Men's and Women's sections. The women's team, they have CWG stars Rupa Rani Tirkey and Lovely Choubey. Delhi has Pinki, another from the Indian team in CWG, who has been a key figure in promoting the sport in Delhi.
Jharkhand men have Chandan Singh and Dinesh Kumar, who were members of the Indian team that won the Fours Event silver medal in Birmingham. Delhi will hope Navneet Singh will lead their challenge.
Incidentally, Lawn Bowl was originally scheduled to be held on the synthetic playfield in New Delhi but it was brought to Gujarat because of the keen interest evinced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Paras Sharma, competition manager and an international technical officer, acknowledged the fact and pointed out that there was no playing arena for the sport in the city.
"It was a big challenge as we didn't have enough time. We are, however, happy that we could get the venue ready for the Games. Usually, it takes nearly 60 to 90 days to make the course competition-fit but we laid the grass in 25 days," Paras Sharma said.
"A synthetic turf was not possible as it takes over three months to develop the ground," he added.
The players will be happy though. India had won the historic two medals on grass in Birmingham. Eight medals -- singles, pairs, triples and fours -- will be at stake, four each for men and women. (ANI)