The curtain on the 13th SA Games fell on Tuesday with a glitzy closing ceremony of the regional sporting extravaganza bidding adieu to all athletes and delegates at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu.
Hosts Nepal put an icing on a successful meet, which went without any serious controversy, with a gold medal in prestigious men’s football owing to their 2-1 win over Bhutan - the only country that failed to win any gold.
Bangladesh had a distinct presence at the closing programmes as men’s football team collected their bronze medal just before the crowd going wild with Nepal celebrating their most successful meet with football gold.
The hosts claimed 51 gold medals to finish second behind perennial table-topper India, who won 172 gold medals, despite not sending athletes in several disciplines and keeping their top athletes at home in some other disciplines.
Bangladesh sent 470 athletes and but finished fifth in the table with 142 medals, including a record 19 gold medals. Archers led Bangladesh contingent in the closing march-past after they got sweeping success with all 10 gold medals available.
Bangladesh also got both gold medals from cricket, which returned to the meet after a break in the previous meet in India’s Guwahati in 2016.
The Games also produced some new sporting icons for Bangladesh like archer Ety Khatun, who won three gold medals- the most by a female athlete from Bangladesh in a South Asian meet.
Though hosts Nepal got most of their gold medals in martial art events, they also revelled in the success of some new stars like swimmer Gaurika Singh, who became new darling girl of the country.
Gaurika, who lives in London, claimed four gold medals in the pool to go level with taekwondo player Deepak Bista as the most successful athlete of the country in South Asian Games.
Nepal prime minister KP Oli Sharma formally declared the Games closed through a video addressing before colourful ceremony, which highlighted the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.
At the closing ceremony, the Games flag was handed to Pakistan, who was chosen as next host earlier on Monday by the South Asian Olympic Council. In a meeting of the SAOC, Pakistan was given six-month time to decide the venue and venue of next meet.
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