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Indian ambassador commends Afghan athletes

By Mansoor Faizy-KABUL: Embassy of India has organized an event on Sunday evening to praise the achievements of the Afghan athletes who won medals in the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) held in India. Over hundred Afghan athletes were present at the event.

Afghanistan has won seven gold, nine silver and 19 bronze medals, taking its total tally to 35 at the 12th South Asian Games.

India’s Ambassador in Kabul, Manpreet Vohra, welcomed the guests including officials and athletes who had travelled to India and exhibited their talent in the SAG.

He added that it gives him immense pleasure to welcome the guests. “This is the first event I am hosting in my capacity as a new Indian ambassador and I hope we will have many more occasions to celebrate together.”

“But tonight it is all about supporting heroes of Afghanistan who have brought honor and medals to this great nation,” he said, adding, “Seven gold medals, nine silver medals and 19 bronze medals. This was Afghanistan’s largest contingent to any South Asian Games and its most successful.”

He said that Afghanistan’s overall rank was fourth at these eight nations’ games. “Last time Afghanistan secured sixth position. A jump of two positions in two years is a spectacular achievement by any standard,” the ambassador added. He congratulated Afghanistan for achieving fourth position in the games.

“I congratulate each and every one of you, especially, Samya Ghulami, the first Afghan woman to win a gold medal at any South Asian Games,” he said.

He furthered that Afghanistan is a brave inspiring country. Despite facing decades of violence, intimidation and terror, Afghans are committed to build a united and peaceful country where every field of human activity can be pursed normally.

“Even while this global objective continues to be opposed by the enemies of peace it is wonderful to see Afghan sportsmen and women already demonstrating that achievement of excellent is still possible in this country and they have shown that sports can be an antidote to ethnic and sectarian division. They give us hope for the future of Afghanistan,” he said.

He said that the government of India is committed to Afghanistan’s development including sports. “Together, we have built roads, schools, hospitals, irrigation system, power station and transmission lines. We are delighted to have been able to find a home ground for Afghan National Cricket Team near Delhi.

He furthered that India would continue supporting Afghanistan as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after inauguration of the new Afghan parliament.

The Afghan National Olympic Committee Chairman, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, thanked the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs of India for support and hospitality toward Afghan athletes during the games. “Afghan National Olympic Committee and Afghan government would send a letter of appreciation to the India Ministry,” he added.

He also thanked the staffers of the Indian embassy in Kabul for providing visa to over 200 Afghan athletes in 24 hours.

High ranking Afghan officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, were also present on the occasion.

Olympic medalist Ruhullah Nekpa said that they are in full swing to bring more medals in the country, but we need the government to support us. “The government knows better about our situation.”

The first female gold medalist, Sumaya Ghulami, said that she had defeated three rivals and won the gold medal. “I am proud of being an Afghan female taekwondo athlete,” she said.

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