8th National Games prepares Laos for success at SEA Games !

Posted by samakomlao Sunday, December 28, 2008

In welcoming the upcoming New Year, all Lao sports fans will not only celebrate the 43rd anniversary of sport in this country, but also hope that celebrations will motivate Lao athletes to success at the 25th South East Asian (SEA) Games as host nation for 2009.

Laos’ main hope as hosts of the SEA Games will be an overwhelming home team advantage that will result in more gold medals and improve on the country’s performance in previous games. Apart from international competitions such as the SEA Games, the country’s main arena for sports is the National Games.

According to the Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Somsavat Lengsavad, who spoke at the closing of the 2008 National Games on December 22, this year’s event was a great experience for officials, athletes and coaches in their preparation for the 25th SEA Games, which will take place in Laos next year.

This year’s eighth National Games was hosted by Champassak province for the second time, and the number of athletes and sports have increased dramatically since the first games in 1985. The main goals of the National Games are not only for development of sport, but also to promote and strengthen friendship between athletes, competitors and supporters from different parts of the country.

The founding day for Lao sports was July 13, 1966, as declared at the third congress of the Lao National Sports Committee (LNSC). This was also the day the Lao People’s Army’s sports division was officially opened at a base in Huaphan province. This was an important milestone in the history of Lao sport. Five months later, athletes competed in an international event for the first time when they went to the Games of New Force in Cambodia. Laos sent 22 athletes who competed in shooting and volleyball events.

Since the country’s liberation in 1975, sports have greatly contributed to national protection and development. Lao sports have expanded into local communities throughout the country. Sport plays an important role in international relations and participation in international competitions brings awareness and success for the country. Since 1975, the Lao government has been developing sport by training coaches and administration officers.

The LNSC held the first National Games in 1985 in Vientiane. There were 650 athletes from five zones and eight ministries competing in 12 sporting events. Vientiane came top of the final medal tally. The second National Games were hosted by Savannakhet province in 1987. Again there were 12 sports events, but athlete numbers had risen to more than 1,376 from seven zones and nine ministries. The capital city’s team retained their winner’s title.

From then on the National Games were to be held every three years in different provinces, but sometimes the games were delayed because of funding problems. The third National Games took place in Khammuan province in 1991 and was attended by 920 athletes from nine zones competing in 11 sports. In 1994, the fourth National Games was hosted by Champassak province, and attracted 1,600 athletes. Competitors took part in 14 sports and came from nine zones, while the leader of the medal tally was Vientiane again. In 1997, the event was hosted by Luang Prabang province and athlete numbers continued to grow. This time the event attracted 1,668 athletes from 10 zones, competing in 14 sports. The Vientiane team finished on top.

The sixth National Games were held in Vientiane in 2000. For the first time, the number of athletes competing was over 3,000 and the number of sports had increased to 28. The Vientiane team retained its top ranking. The seventh National Games was hosted by Savannakhet province in 2005 and attended by teams from 17 provinces and 13 ministries. This time there were 22 sports and 3,257 athletes. Vientiane again won the final medal tally.

This year’s eighth National Games ran from December 13-22 in Champassak province, and ended with big surprises as the home team claimed the top ranking in the final medal tally. For the first time ever, previous champions Vientiane slumped to third place. This time, about 6,000 athletes competed in 24 sports, representing 17 provinces, 10 ministries and two organisations.


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