Khelo India 2019: Amchi talent ready to find that gold touch
Representing Maharashtra, this lot of Pune athletes are the early odds-on favourites to bring home goldUpdated: Jan 09, 2019 17:38 IST
The Khelo India Youth Games 2019, which will see a host of athletes in action, is set to officially kick off on Wednesday at the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the event through a video message. The athletes will compete in 18 different disciplines, of which six are team sports. The Balewadi complex, which will be the main venue, has been refurbished with funds from the Centre and the Maharashtra government. Hosts Maharashtra, who finished second in the inaugural edition of the games held last year, are aiming to grab the top spot from Haryana.
Pune’s Snehal Mane (9) will be looking to win the gold medal in the u-21 women’s doubles tennis event at Khelo India 2019, with her partner Shristi Das .
The year that has gone by has been a contrasting one for both as Mane as enjoyed her run, winning six trophies while Das, by her own admission underperformed and is looking to right all her wrongs in the new year.
Snehal Mane: “This is the first time we’re pairing up for doubles. I’m looking forward to the tournament and the challenges that lie ahead.”
After a disappointing end to the 2018 Khelo India campaign, bowing out at the quarter-final stages, the under-17 Maharashtra girls kabaddi team is in the city with the mission to defy their critics.
Pune’s has a decent representation as four players - Ankita Bodke (16) Runali Jadhavi (16), Sreejana Yogi (15) and Radha More (16) - are all part of the state squad aiming to win gold this time.
Runali Jadhavi, 16, raider: “The training has been good, but it’s been extremely hard. As a team, we’ve all been getting along brilliantly and I cannot wait for the tournament to begin.”
Sreejana Yogi, 15, defence: “I think we’ll win the gold this year. We have a very balanced team of good raiders and a solid defence.”
Three city boys, Saurav Arudh (15), Yogesh Akshumani (16), Gaurav Tapke (16) are a part of the under-17 boys kabaddi team for Khelo India 2019.
Having played Zilla Parishad games on two occasions, it is Arudh’s first real taste of competing at the national level.
Much like Arudh, Akshumani and Tapke are also yet to find their feet in the game and while they’re hoping for a medal, it appears to be a long shot as of now.
Arudh, 15, raider: “Our preparations are going on very well. Two sessions per day are really keeping us on our toes but I am happy with how we’re shaping up.”
Three archers from the city, Bhagyashree Kolte (21), Isha Pawar (15) and Sakshi Shitole (18) will represent the state team at Khelo India 2019. Having trained for several years, winning medals at different levels, this crop of archers from Maharashtra seems poised to win the gold.
In her eight years of practising archery, this is the first time Bhagyashree Kolte will participate at a national level event. Due to having a low score, she wasn’t eligible to participate in the previous event, but she has now worked on her game to qualify for the Maharashtra team.
Bhagyashree Kolte: “The facilities here are great and I’m happy to be associated with the Maharashtra team. I’ll be here looking to give it my best.”
Sakshi Shitole: I have practiced very hard and I’m impressed with my performances. This makes me very confident going into Khelo India.”
15-year-old Ankita Narale is unlikely to be flustered by the favourites tag as she is in a quest to seek glory at Khelo India 2019. Narale has only recently broken Dutee Chand’s 200m national junior record and given her nascent age, she’s likely to further improve herself before hitting the senior circuit.
She was the fastest girl at KISG 2018 in Delhi and she also claimed the sprint double at the national junior athletics championships in Ranchi last November. She clocked 12.38s in the 100m and 24.96s in the 200m to break Dutee Chand’s record in the Under-16 division.
Ankita Narale: “Yes, I want to get personal best times and lower the national junior record so much that it remains in my name for some years. My coaches Sanjay Patankar and Sudhakar Memane and I have set clear targets for this week and I am confident that I can achieve them.”
Pune-born Abhishek Ghube is another medal hope for the Maharashtra team in the u-21 age group. He has won silver and bronze medals in the 110m hurdles events in 2018 and has his eyes set on winning a gold this time around.
First Published: Jan 09, 2019 17:34 IST