The Khelo India programme was launched by the Government of India with a vision to showcase the tremendous potential of Indian sportsperson, mainly in the grassroot level, by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country. The first edition of Khelo India Youth Games was hosted at Delhi in 2018 under the able guidance of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the Sports Minister of India. Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was present to inaugurate the edition that was itself a real boost for the 3700+ athletes present at the occasion.
Under-17 athletes participated across 16 disciplines in the 7-day long affair with Haryana emerging as the champion state. Haryana picked 38 gold, 26 silver and 38 bronze to take their total medal tally to 102. Maharashtra finished second with a tally of 110 medals, 36 of them gold. The team won 32 silver and bronze each.
With Maharashtra emerging as the second-best team in the inaugural edition, they gained the confidence to bid for the 2019 edition. “We had decided to host the second edition of Khelo India Games at the Shiv Chatrapati Sports Complex in Pune. We are trying to enhance the sports culture further with this event. We have upgraded the infrastructure so that our youth can train better in future’’, said Vinod Tawde, the Minister of School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare of Maharashtra.
This year the Games will have 18 disciplines and over 6000 athletes covering college students, taking the age group from under-17 to under-21. “It is just the tip of the ice berg. It is time to believe in ourselves. We can do everything’’, said Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Khelo India brings many arms of Indian sport like Indian Olympic Association (IOC), Sports Authority of India (SAI), National Sports Federations, Association of Indian Universities and School Games Federation of India together under one platform.
Youth Olympics gold medallists shooters Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary and weighlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga will be among the cream of India’s young sporting talents participating in the Games. Recurve archer Akash Malik and Air Rifle shooter Mehuli Ghosh, who won silver in Youth Olympics will also be competing. Other participants include boxers Sakshi Chaudhary, who won the AIBA World Youth Boxing Championship, Asian champions Anamika Hooda and Manisha as well as Bhavesh Kattimani, a World Youth Championship bronze medal winner. UWW World Junior championship freestyle silver medallist Deepak Punia and Sajan Bhanwal, who created history by becoming the first Indian Greco-Roman wrestler to win a silver medal there will also be participating. Athletes like Jisna Mathew, who was part of the Indian campaign in the 2016 Olympic Games will also come with international experience.
Khelo India 2019 will be broadcasted on Star Sports for the second year but there will be more hours of live coverage, with three regional languages — Tamil, Telugu and Kannada — to broadcast the Games along with the English and Hindi broadcast. With an increased broadcasting time, Khelo India is trying to follow the big idea of American collegiate sports that is flourishing on television.