Khelo India Youth Games: Boxing helps Pune’s Akash Gorkha punch above his weight
Like most kids in Sadashiv Peth locality here, Akash Gorkha used to spend his free time in one of the many parks surrounding the residential complexes in this central part of the city. He, however, did not live in one of those buildings, rather he stayed under a parking shade.
Akash’s father Ramesh, who shifted from Nepal to India 21 years back, is a security guard and found it hard to make ends meet in a family of four. His ambition was, however, to see his two sons get a better life.
After coach Umesh Jagdale brought Akash into boxing, the 16-year-old seems to be on the right track to fulfill that wish. At the Khelo India Games here, Maharashtra’s Akash entered the U-17 57kg category final on Thursday defeating Haryana’s Aman Duhan.
Akash also won a silver medal at the 2018 Nations Junior Cup in Vrbas, Serbia, and finished second at the 2017 Junior Boxing Championship. The early spark has helped him get an admission at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) here a few months back.
Jagdale, Akash’s childhood coach, used to observe him while he played with friends and asked his father to let him train at the local club – Maharashtra Institute of Games and Sports.
“He was very sharp on the field. I thought he would make a good boxer and asked his dad to allow to train with us. Joining boxing has changed his life,” said Jagdale, who started training Akash in 2010.
Akash, who seems quite opposite to the aggressive self while inside the ring, said his entry into the ASI makes him hopeful. “The sparring partners are good in ASI and so is the diet. And sir (Jagdale) is always there to guide me.”
Akash’s father is also satisfied that his son is doing well in sport. “My elder son studies in college and Akash has won medals in boxing. I am a proud man now,” said Ramesh, who still works at the Ramdoot Complex here as a watchman.
Jharkhand, Odisha in final
Jharkhand came back from 0-3 deficit to shock Odisha 4-3 and set up a title clash with Haryana in the girls U-17 hockey. Haryana hammered Punjab 4-0 in the other semi-final.
Odisha went up 3-0 in 23 minutes before Jharkhand launched a comeback. They pumped in four goals in 28 minutes to change the course of the match. Neha Lakra scored the opener for Odisha in the sixth minute while Mukta Jojo doubled the lead by converting a stroke. Jyoti Chhetri made it 3-0 in the 23rd minute with a successful penalty-corner conversion.
Jharkhand turned up the heat two minutes into the second half when Sanjana Horo sent the ball into the net to reduce the gap. Six minutes later Jharkhand forced a penalty corner and Dipti Kullu converted it.
With two quick goals, Jharkhand sensed an opening and took control of the midfield. They used the flanks well. The Odisha defence collapsed under the wave of Haryana attack.
Odisha conceded the equaliser in the 48th minute through Poonam Mundu and just before the final whistle Beauty Dung Dung slotted home the winner for Jharkhand.
Gargi, Priyanshi to vie for gold
In the tennis U-17 girls singles semi-finals, Maharashtra’s Prerna Vichare defeated Andhra Pradesh’s Lakshmi Reddy 7-5, 6-4 to set up a title clash with Gujarat’s Priyanshi Bhandari. The latter eased past Maharashtra’s sub-junior national champion Gargi Pawar 6-2, 6-2.
In the U-17 girl doubles semi-finals, Telangana’s S Sirimala and S Damera beat Haryana’s Ishita Singh and Sanya Sngh 7-5, 6-2.
In boys U-17 singles, Haryana’s Sudhant Dabas claimed the bronze with a 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 win over Gujarat’s Krish Patel. In another bronze medal play-off in U-21 boys doubles, Rajasthan’s Fardeen Qamar and Faisal Qamar brushed aside Tamil Nadu’s M. Suresh Kumar and Abhinav Sanjeev 6-3, 7-5.