Maharashtra walked away with the champion’s trophy of the Khelo India Youth Games 2019 in a shower of confetti, victory chants of ‘Jai Maharashtra’ and deafening music. The hosts had a rich haul of 85 gold, 62 silver and 81 bronze, totaling an impressive 228 medals. Haryana emerged second with 62 gold, 56 silver and 60 bronze for a total of 178 meals, while Delhi were third with 48 gold, 37 silver and 51 bronze for a total of 136 medals.
PARTICIPATION OF SMALLER STATES
Khelo India was a concept that started in 2018 under the able guidance of Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore along with the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The initial edition identified new talents, brought in rural sportsmen and prepared them for the bigger stage. Carrying on from last season Maharashtra, Haryana and Karnataka dominated the 2019 edition as well. But the highlight was the increased participation of smaller states like Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Daman & Diu and others.
Daman and Diu, with a total of 20 players won three boxing medals with Amit Kumar, Hitesh Kumar and Rahul Harpal earning medal in their respective Under-21 category. Back home they have minimum infrastructure but the Daman & Diu government is upright in changing the sports scenario in the state. Their Boxing coach Vijay Pahal revealed that before the Games, the government ensured that the team had effective training sessions for preparation. It was a great matter of pride for the Daman & Diu contingent to return with three medals when they were least expected to do so.
Though the other small states were unable to confirm their names in the medal table, still their active participation was a commendable achievement. Lakshadweep, with a 29-player contingent, fought various odds to ultimately reach Pune on time. Poor internet connectivity in Lakshadweep restricted the desired participants to fill their documents on the tournament portal. As the deadline progressed, Bhargav Gopal, the State Liaisoning Officer for the team, filled the forms manually and send them to the tournament officials. It was in the ninth hour that the forms were accepted and the contingent started for Pune. Their journey was also a tedious one, as they reached the venue after 36 hours.
Other regions like Sikkim, Puduchery, Andaman & Nicobar Island and Nagaland also got an ideal opportunity to express their sporting ability through Khelo India Games. Thus this Games gifted new talents, rural stars and future heroes of Indian sports.
STARS OF KHELO INDIA 2019
10-year old Abhinav Shaw became the youngest gold medallist at the Khelo India Games2019 when he teamed up with Mehuli Ghosh in the 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team event. The shooter from the Asansol region of West Bengal was named in honour of India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra. Shaw along with his senior partner Mehuli Ghosh, scored 501.7 points in the final, better than their 498.2 in the Junior final and the 498.8 in the Youth final in Thiruvananthapuram.
13-year old Soumya Dalvi stamped her authority in Weightlifting in a very quick time. The girl from Maharashtra’s Kalyan loved dancing and trained under seasoned artist. But the daughter of a weightlifter had a natural choice to pursue Weightlifting. Saumya effortlessly went on to clinch gold in the U-17 Women 40kg category. Another Maharashtra-breed dancer-turned weightlifter Shubham Kolekar secured a gold medal in great style by claiming a National Junior record in 55kg class. Shubham is the son of a small fabrication unit owner in Sangli, the weightlifting belt of Maharashtra. His coach Santosh Sinhasane was impressed by his physique and roped him for Weightlifting. Shubham won the National Junior Championship in Nagpur less than a fortnight ago in 58 kg category. But he had to reduce his weight for KIYG2019. “I was 58kg three days ago and had to stop eating and even reduce my fluid intake to be able to come down below 55kg before the weigh-in on the morning of the competition,” he said.
Gymnast Bavleen Kaur from Jammu & Kashmir won all the three gold medals that her state won in this KIYG 2019. She also added two silver to ensure herself a medal in every category in which she participated. Bavleen who turned16 during the Games, was at her best in all the events she played in, returning with scores of 12.35, 11.25, 13.30 and 11.40 in the ball, ribbon, clubs and hoop events respectively. After her super performance she happily gave all credit to her coaches, Krupali Patel Singh and S.P Singh. She was ecstatic when she said, “Despite the lack of adequate training facilities and equipment back home in Jammu and Kashmir, my coaches always ensured that I focused solely on my game and they took care of the rest.”
Telengana boy Dhanush Srikant has hearing disability but that did not stop him from being the only shooter in the country with impairment to win a medal in the regular category. He became a star of Khelo India when he clinched the under-21 Air Rifle gold. Dilip Mahadu Gavit from Nasik, with a right hand limited only to elbow, took the courage to field himself in general category. He was a member of Maharashtra’s 4X100 Relay team, who gave his state the bronze medal by crossing the finish line in U-17 finals. Dilip participated for the first time in an event of such a magnitude. “It was very challenging for me to keep my balance intact while running and exchanging the baton. But, I overcame my handicap and took up the challenge. Of course it’s a team run and my fellow runners’ cooperation and understanding was decisive,” explains Dilip after his success.
SCHOOL CHILDREN FLOCKED IN THE STADIUM AS SPECTATORS
These youngsters have inspired a lot of schoolchildren to flock to the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Pune. Several Pune clubs, schools and junior colleges brought their students to witness the competition in the different disciplines. These children witnessed events like athletics, badminton, gymnastics, wrestling, weightlifting and swimming and followed proceedings with great interest and involvement.
JAYA & VIJAY- THE MASCOTS
They were entertained by Jaya and Vijay, the two mascots of KIYG 2019, who were omnipresent in the event. Vijay was the Tiger and Jaya was the Black Buck who heralded the theme and energy around the event. The school children took selfies, had photos and shook hands with Jaya and Vijay. Actually the mascots helped everyone to forget their stress and maintained the spirit of the Games.
KHELO INDIA FAN PARK
Like this, Khelo India at Pune turned out to be a carnival for the spectators. They had enough space to spend some off time at the Khelo India Fan Park that was spread across 10 acres of land. There were multiple stalls, mini sports activities and a giant screen to watch sports and music, all making for an electric atmosphere at the Shiv Chhatrapati Complex.
FINAL MEDAL TABLE
|20||Jammu and Kashmir||3||4||1||8|
|29||Daman and Diu||0||0||3||3|