Commonwealth Cadet Championship medallist Aditya Dhopaokar will be the star attraction of the judo competition at the Khelo India Youth Games, which starts in Pune from Thursday. Dhopaokar, who won silver at the Commonwealth event in Jaipur last November, wants to improve on his Khelo India School Games performance of last year.
“Last year I was little upset with a bronze medal finish, but my father who is my coach has trained me hard for this edition. There is an improvement in my game with my silver at Jaipur and I feel confident of the gold this time,” Dhopaokar was quoted as saying in a media release issued on Wednesday.
“The Judo Federation also honoured me with the prestigious black belt for winning the Commonwealth medal,” added Dhopaokar, who will compete in the 73kg in Under-17 category.
Ashwini Solanki is excited to be part of Khelo India for a second consecutive year and will compete in the 48kg U-17 event. “Last year in Delhi, I lost in the finals. I have learned a lot from my mistakes and this year I’m confident of winning gold and bring glory to Maharashtra,” Ashwini said.
Sohan Singh of Madhya Pradesh popularly known as Sonu, also won a silver at Jaipur. He will compete in the 50kg category.
Sihor’s Kapil Parmar, a bronze medallist at the junior nationals will also represent Madhya Pradesh and aims to finish on the podium for his parents.
High action at Khelo India athletics
Andhra Pradesh’s Bharat Yadav and Maharashtra’s Karan Hegiste will offer a taste of the high level of competition in athletics at the Khelo India Youth Games.
Expected to compete for the blue riband 100 m gold in the Under-17 section, the sprinters will be among the first athletes to take to the track. Then there are athletes like Satara’s hammer thrower, Sneha Jadhav, who won the Junior Nationals last year, and Mumbai-based shot putter Poorna Raorane, who also won in junior nationals held at Ranchi.
“I missed the junior nationals in Ranchi with an injury but am well prepared to win here,” Bharat was quoted as saying in a media release issued Wednesday.
With some doubt about national junior champion Nisar Ahmed’s participation in the Under-21 section, the battle between Rahul Sharma (Uttar Pradesh) and Abhinav Chalangode (Kerala) will be an interesting one considering that they claimed the lesser medals behind the Delhi lad in Ranchi.
The sprint heats will herald the track and field competition in which more than 600 athletes from 29 states and seven Union Territories will bid to grab the spotlight.
The biggest of the draws though could be two-time Asian junior 400m champion Jisna Mathew (Kerala), Uttarakhand’s Anu Kumar and Maharashtra’s Tai Bamhane. Of course, there are others like 19-year-old hammer thrower Sneha Jadhav, who represented India in the World School Games 2016 in Turkey and in the Youth Asian Games 2017 in Bangkok.
Mumbai-based shot putter Poorna Raorane, who won gold in Ranchi with a final effort of 15.30m to slip past Punjabs Parmjot Kaur, said she was ready to repeat her feat. Poorna finished fourth in the World School Games in Turkey.