Khelo India is held across two categories .i.e the U-17 and U-21. It provides a platform for the youngsters to be part of a big sporting event at the initial stage of their career. Apart from showing their talent, the participants also come to understand the professionalism, dedication, and commitment to compete at a very high level that will prepare them for even bigger events in the coming years. More importantly, Khelo India gives them the confidence to pursue sports as a career, which is a must for every sportsperson.
Soubrity Mondal, Kenisha Gupta and Sivangi Sharma in Swimming, Priyanka Dasgupta, Asmi Badade and Jatin Kanoija in Gymnastics, and Pooja Danole in Cycling became quadruple gold medal winners and are the most promising talents of Khelo India 2020.
Kerala’s Ancy Sojan and Haryana’s Nuzrat Ali won the 100m sprint events in the U-21 category and became the fastest woman and man of Khelo India 2020 respectively.
Every edition of Khelo India brings forth success stories of grit and commitment. A mother of three children from Assam, Poornima Mondol has produced three athletes in three different sports for Assam, namely Sujit Mondol (kho kho), Pradip Mondol (hockey) and Mallvika Mondol (football)- all of them representing Assam in Khelo India 2020.
“In the beginning, I faced a lot of trouble while providing sporting equipment for my children. But now, when they win in tournaments, they receive some money which has eased me a bit. Now, they earn enough to provide for themselves as well,” said the proud mother.
Assam’s weightlifter Gulap Gogoi broke the junior nationals record in the 81 kg category (U-21).
“I used to go to a gym in my hometown and then I saw people do weightlifting there. So then even I tried it and liked the sport. Thereafter, I took part in competitions and eventually went for the trials in Bhopal. I did well there and got a chance to join the Indian Army, four months ago,” said the weightlifter.
Dinesh Kumar of Odisha bagged the first gold in cycling, a sport that made the debut in this edition.”I have just liked something about cycling, right since I was a kid. I think I got inspired by an elderly cycling fanatic that I used to see every day. Like him, I too simply pulled out my bike whenever I felt like and went away on long drives.” said Dinesh.
Manipur took home a total of 17 medals in Judo – six gold, four silver, and seven bronze. After Tababi Devi won the silver medal at the Youth Olympics in 2018, there was an influx in the number of judo players who joined our academy back in Manipur. The region has always had this martial arts’ culture, and judo has also benefited because of it,” said their judo Team Manager, Deven Moirangthem.
Golom Tinku of Arunachal Pradesh claimed the gold in the Boys Under-17 55kg weightlifting competition.”We didn’t have a TV to watch sport. I had never heard of any of these sports”, Golom said. “My brother used to play sport too. He was a badminton player. After my father passed, to help support the family, and to help me, he quit the sport and instead took up a job in Hyderabad. He coaches badminton there”.
This edition of Khelo India also witnessed Assam becoming the first North-Eastern state to take up Kabaddi.”We are making our debut here in kabaddi, and we are the first team from the North-East to do so. But look at the support the players are getting. This is amazing. Assam will soon become a force to reckon with” said coach Siddikur Rahman.
As Khelo India 2020 ended, another crop of talent has been unearthed. It is now even more important to nurture their talent in the right way so that they will become flagbearers of Indian sports in the coming years.