Get set....go! Prez declares CYG open

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Pune, Oct 12 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil today declared the third Commonwealth Youth Games(CYG) open amidst riot of colours and cultural extravaganza as sportspersons from all the 71 Commonwealth countries will be matching their skills for the next six days at the Shiv Chhatarapati Sports city, Balewadi here today.

Host India, fielding the largest 154-member contingent, aspires to reap a record medal tally improvinging its performance in the earlier two editions held at Edinburg in Scotland (2000) and Bendigo in Australia (2004).

In Bendigo, India finished at the 10th place in the medals tally.

Abhinav Bindra, the first Indian to win an individual Olympic Gold, in his speech urged youths to embrace sports for a fitter and healthier life.

He marked the beginning of the games by pouring the water brought by all 71 participating countries to bring alive 'the Fountain of Youth'.

The Fountain was created by all the participating countries, which brought with them a sappling and water from their land as a mark of coolective participation.

The 17-year-old Kolhapur lad swimmer Virdhawal Khade was given the honour of being the country's flag bearer, while badminton sensation Saina Nehwal took the oath on behalf of about 1300 sportspersons who are taking part in the games.

Speaking on the occasion, the 2008 CYG Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi (MP), described the Pune games as the stepping stone for better medal prospects at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 London Olympics.

Expressing hope and confidence, he said the young and budding sportspersons would certainly make the country proud in garnering a bagful of medals in Pune.

Mr Kalmadi also thanked the Punekars and assured of a resounding success at these games.

''We will be making a serious bid in hosting the 2020 Olympic Games in the country after the grand show put up in the twin games being hosted in Asia and the country for the first time,'' the IOA chief said.

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Michael Fennel, impressed by the state-of-the-art sports facilities created for the games, hoped that the young athletes would break records over the next six days.

''The young sportspersons needs to be encouraged so as to bring love and harmony among the people of the world.'' Earlier, the opening ceremony of the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games here this evening was proved to be an emotional roller coaster ride for countrymen as it spoke the language of friendliness and eargerness to tell the world that India, on the verge of attaining super power, has arrived.

The theme song "You and me from the one world, heart to heart, we are one family", set the tone for the evening as jam-packed stadium of 20,000 came alive with dancing and singing , and clapping their approval to its universal sense.

Among the VVVIPs who graced the opening ceremony included Maharashtra Chief Minsiter Vilasrao Deshmukh , Union Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Union Sports Minister M S Gill and most of the Cabinet colleagues of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

UNI IS GT AS2242

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