By Shreerang Javadekar
The Inter IIT Sports Meet, or just “Inter IIT”, as most students refer to it, is the only event wherein students from all the IITs participate. The meet comprises of a total of 12 sports, namely Athletics, Aquatics, Basketball, Badminton, Cricket, Football, Hockey, Table Tennis, Tennis, Squash, Volleyball and Weightlifting. The entire meet is conducted in three phases: The Aquatics Meet which is usually organized in the first week of October, the 8 day long main-event in mid December followed by the Staff Meet. Every sport carries an explicit weightage and the position that a team finishes in that sport adds a specific number of points to the net tally of the team. A contingent March-Past flags off the main-event in full gusto and every contingent’s performance in the March-Past is also accounted for in the tally.
The Road to Inter IIT 2014
The journey to the Inter IIT translated into fruitful outcomes for the students of the host IIT Bombay. Given that hosting the Inter IIT is a huge honour for any IIT, immense efforts and funds were directed by the institute towards building world-class sporting infrastructure. Many new courts were built for indoor sports like Volleyball, Basketball and Table-Tennis while the dilapidated outdoor sports facilities were almost entirely revamped to provide a better playing surface for athletics and field sports like Football, Hockey and Cricket.
The infrastructure-related tasks were taken care of by the senior faculty of the institute and the administrative staff under the supervision of the Director of IIT Bombay. Nonetheless, the execution of the entire event including hospitality and food requirement of the contingents was taken care of by the students, mainly Junior and Senior Undergraduate students. The General Secretary Sports Affairs acted as the link between the team and the authorities.
The build-up to the Meet saw many informal events being organized in the semester before the meet. Movie screenings and sports competitions within the students of the institute were regularly organized which helped build up a fever of excitement in the student fraternity. The direct consequence of such events was that more and more junior students volunteered to help the organizing team with the execution of the main-meet.
The Aquatics Meet, in its 30th year now, was hosted by IIT Bombay during October 1-4, 2014 as a part of the 50th Inter-IIT Sports Meet. A total of 22 gold medals were up for grabs during the event for men and women of both individual and relay type. In addition, water polo was also a part of the championship. All events were played in adherence to the Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA) rules and standards. The event was graced by the presence of Arjuna awardee Virdhawal Khade who was the Chief Guest of the occasion. One of the finest swimmers in the country, he is the youngest Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics in 2008. A musical evening by the singer Gajendra Verma added a non-traditional angle to the event.
IIT Madras’ men and IIT Roorkee’s women opened their points tally by securing maximum potential points available in the Aquatics Meet. Akshay Krishna of IIT Madras and Nivedita Sharma of IIT Roorkee stole the show by winning 5 golds each in the individual events. Akshay Sharma also clinched 2 gold medals in the relay events while Nivedita managed a hard-fought bronze.
The countdown to the Main-Meet was kicked off with the unveiling of the mascot for the sports meet. The mascot was a leopard named “Chhawa” which in Marathi means a cub but is also colloquially used to refer to a smart person. For the first time, the mascot for the Inter IIT is entirely designed by students. “In July 2014, a leopard had visited our campus, putting us in the news for several days. Hence it made the most sense for us to pick it as our mascot, since the name of IIT Bombay was so heavily associated with the leopard,” said Vaibhav Bhalekar, Design Head of the Student Organizing Committee.
The organizing team ensured that the participants would enjoy a pleasant few days during their stay in Bombay. While, the students were kept busy in the pool during the morning time, a series of recreational activities were organized in the evenings for the amusement of students.
The Final Showdown
The much awaited main-meet kicked off on the 12th of December. A plethora of action, glamour and entertainment, the 8 day journey saw dreams come true for a few but also broke a handful hearts on its way.
The inaugural ceremony was presided over by the Director of IIT Bombay and the Dean of Student Affairs, IIT Bombay. A jam-packed 5000 strong crowd turned up to listen to a heartthrob for many, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar who was also the Chief Guest on the occasion. Amidst, deafening cheers of ‘Sachin! Sachin!’, he inspired the sportsmen to follow their passion by giving them a reminiscence of his childhood memories on the field. His message to the participants was to compete in the right spirit of the game.
The games began in its real sense with the March Past led by defending champions IIT Kanpur. IIT Patna clinched gold in the March followed by Bombay and Jodhpur. The evening saw singer Amit Trivedi take the participants on a melodious tour with his tunes.
While, there were a few hiccups in the schedule of outdoor games due to rains, most of the games were right on schedule and all the games concluded comfortably by the end of Day 7. Many national sports athletes were invited as Guests of Honour for the championship games. Dhanraj Pillay (Captain of Indian National Hockey Team), Nandan Bal (Represented India at the Davis Cup, Tennis), Mamta Prabhu (Silver Medalist, Table Tennis at the Delhi CWG) among few others, graced the occasion by their expertise and counsel. An interactive session with John Gloster – ex-physio of the Indian National Team was also organized.
Amongst numerous closely contested battles, the games took a dramatic turn on the final day of the Meet. In the men’s GC, IIT Kanpur by winning the critical Athletics GC jumped from the third spot to finish first by half a point over Roorkee who were enjoying an excellent run in the games by finishing first in the Basketball, Football, Hockey and Squash GC. Records were broken in women’s high jump and long jump in addition to Men’s Hammer throw. Hosts Bombay finished 4th in the Men’s GC and were triumphant in the Women’s GC.
In line with the Aquatics Meet, various cultural events were organized during the free time of the competitors. A leisure arena was structured for the students to enjoy fun activities like board games, ring football, dance, etc. Numerous interactive sessions amongst the students were organized to promote culture amongst different IITs. A gala dinner was also organized for all the participants in addition to an EDM concert by DJ Lost Stories.
On the occasion of the Golden Jubilee, the Organizing Committee wanted to make this Meet even bigger and more special by giving back to the community on a truly pan IIT level.
A social initiative was launched at the opening ceremony of the Aquatics Meet to help the society by improving the scenario of primary education in the country through the medium of sports. The Organizing Committee decided to raise money through runs that would take place in all 16 IITs. The Inter IIT Torch symbolizing peace, goodwill and harmony, was sent to all the IITs and mini marathons were organized where students ran with the torch. The first run was held in IIT Bombay and runs in other IITs followed subsequently. A total of 3000-4000 participants, mainly students, ran in these mini-marathons.
These funds will be donated to Smile Foundation, in proportion to the total number of people running. The NGO will utilize these funds on programs supporting primary education and will help the underprivileged in our society. Apart from that, the children being benefited through this initiative will visit the IIT Bombay campus and an educational tour will be ensued for them.
Since IITians are famous as the best minds in the country, their intelligence was put to the ultimate test by organizing a chess tournament amongst the 16 IITs’ students. The best chess players of the respective IITs were invited to Bombay to take part in this chess tournament. The points of this competition were not included in the net tally however; it was seen as the first step to formalize the game of Chess as a part of the Meet. Bombay emerged victorious in this tournament. The judges of the tournament even praised the intellectual level of the tournament and claimed it to be much higher than other Inter-college tournaments.
The 50th Inter IIT Sports Meet indeed revamped the face of the Sports Meets being held in the time being. The bar has clearly been set for its 51st edition.
Note: This article was originally published by Insight, IIT Bombay’s student media body. It has been reproduced with permission.