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Meet the Future Stars of Indian Sports

The first ever Khelo Indian School Games was a successful event for numerous under 17 athletes. As the event progressed people witnessed the talent of many youngsters, whom we boastfully see as the Future Stars of Indian Sports.

First edition of the Khelo India School Games was organized by Sports Ministry under the guidance of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. He along with various former and current Indian athletes paved the way for one of the biggest school sports event this nation as ever seen. Thousands of athletes from several schools across India showed their participation in the 16 sports discipline.

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Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore with the Khelo India Mascots. (Source)

All the athletes were divided according to the state they belong or study at. Haryana – Maharashtra and Delhi had the lion’s share of the medals. Though Haryana emerged as the victorious state with a tally of 38 Gold – 26 Silver and 38 Bronze, it was Maharashtra who more medals. All together team Maharashtra garnered 36 Gold – 32 Silver and 43 Bronze medals with a grand total of 111 medals. Haryana, in total won 102 medals. However, as the athletes from Haryana won two extra gold medals than Maharashtra they were declared the winners of the first ever Khelo India School Games. Delhi has a total medal tally of 94 in which 25 were gold – 29 were Silver and 40 won Bronze.

The games were inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 31st of January and it was concluded on the 8th of February.      

Let’s take a look at some of the under 17 athletes who showed their prowess at the Khelo India School Games and whom we consider the Future Stars of Indian Sports    

Future Stars – Nisar Ahmed – Gold Medal 100M

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From the slums of Delhi to training in Jamaica – Nisar Ahmad is India’s best bet in future Olympics. (Source)

The 16-year-old from Delhi’s Bada Bagh slum in Azadpur has emerged to become India’s most promising track and field athlete at the junior level. Nisar is regularly recording a below 11 second timing at the domestic level meets. He is strongly touted to become the future star of

Indian sports and a medal prospect at international competitions.

In the KISG, he not only equalled his personal best – clocking an impressive 10.76s – to clinch the gold medal in the 100m dash but also rewrote the under-16 national record.

“I want to use this scholarship to break the myth that Indians cannot run below 10 seconds. My ultimate aim is to bring medal glory for the nation at the Olympics. Khelo India is a step in that direction,” he said.

Nisar Ahmed has now left India to train at the famous Racers Track Club in Kingston, Jamaica, home to Olympics legend Usain Bolt and his coach Glen Mills.

Future Stars – Avantika Narale – Gold 100M

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Avantika Narale with runner ups of the 100m dash at the Khelo India School Games.

Pune girl, Avantika Narale, from Lonkar High School bagged gold at the first Khelo India School Games by completing the 100m run in just 12.36 seconds. For her gold medal winning performance, Avantika spoke highly of her coach and her supportive family and dedicated the medal to them.

A few years ago Avantika was very often seen making quick sprints in her school, and to her credit, she was always considered the fastest among her friends. But kabaddi was her first love before coming to athletics.

After seeing her speed in kabaddi, her physical training teacher, Shivaji Mehta, spotted her potential and urged her to get registered in athletics. By the time she reached class 8th, athletics became her top priority. After she shifted to train under coach Sanjay Patankar, there was a marked upturn in her performance.

For Santosh Narale, his daughter’s performance in the Khelo India School Games was a moment to cherish.

“I am proud of my daughter. She is the best,” he said.

He further added that he was expecting gold because Avantika had worked very hard before these games. Talking about his financial problems, Santosh said that he feels disappointed at times because they cannot afford some of the things that Avantika craves for.

But on the lighter note, he said that he will treat Avantika with some delicious chicken biryani for her gold medal-winning performance at the Khelo India School Games.

Future Stars – Pooja – Gold in Shot Put and Discus Throw

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Pooja who won two golds at KISG is a strong medal prospect in the upcoming Olympics.

Haryana’s Pooja clinched two gold medals in the shot put (12.88m) and discus throw (41.01m) events for girls at the KISG, following in the footsteps of champion women throwers coming out of her state.

It all started in Charkhi, Haryana, for this 9th standard student of the Government Girls Senior Secondary School when she got inspired by her sister who was a javelin thrower. However, unlike her sister, she started with discus before taking up shot put as well. For Pooja, two-time Olympic and World champion Sandra Perkovic, is the inspiration. She wants to emulate the 27-year-old Croatian.

“I want to make it big like her. She has been a real star for me. The KISG is a stepping stone, the platform which has put me on course for realising my dreams. This scholarship of Rs 5 lakh would be of immense help,” she said.

Future Stars – Manu Bhaker – Gold in 10M Air Pistol Event

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Sensational youngster Manu Bhaker will represent India at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

For someone who took to shooting just a little over two years back, breaking two long-standing national records in a span of less than a month would easily qualify as prodigious talent. But when you talk to 16-year-old Manu Bhaker about it, she laughs off any such suggestion.

“Breaking records just happens. I don’t think about them. People tell me later that I have broken a record.” She didn’t just win the gold, she broke two junior national records inside an hour.

A Fun fact about this future star is that before taking up shooting, she was already competing at the national level in different sports.

For this shooting star, 2018 will be a big year. She has already qualified for all the senior and junior ISSF World Cups, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympics.

“I am prepared for that. I have even got extra pages added to my passport,” she said.

Future Stars – Vikas Yadav – Gold in Javelin Throw

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Vikas during the final round of his Javelin Throw competition.

As a child, Vikas used to train with makeshift javelins made from wood and aluminium. But most of the time they would break upon impact with the ground. However, this contender from our list of future stars, the 17-year-old didn’t allow the odds to overpower his ambitions.

At the Khelo India School Games (KISG), he claimed the gold medal with a throw of 75.02m to get a step closer towards realising his dream of representing India at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

Vikas, who hails from Kaulapur village in UP’s Bhadohi district, had a modest introduction to the sport.

“My parents and elder brother always supported me. Also, my first coach (Collector Singh) helped me a lot. He got me my first pair of spikes,” he said.

Vikas’ story changed when he was spotted by his current coach, Rakesh Rawat. “This KISG gold is my reply to the critics,” said Vikas.

Future Stars – Sumathira Balkrishnan – Double Gold Medallist Gold in 400M and 4*4 relay  

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Quarter Miler Sumathira Balakrishnan clinched two golds.

Quarter miler Sumathira Balakrishnan is the latest sporting revelation at the first ever Khelo India school games. The 17-year-old Tamil Nadu girl carrying on the tradition of excellent 400 metres runners from the southern part of India, timed 56.39 seconds while winning the gold. She later anchored her 4 x 400m teammates to another gold medal.

It was, by all accounts, the second fastest 400m by an Indian under-20 runner this season, her teammate R Vithya timed 56.01. “I am happy but not satisfied since my coach had expected a better time,” she said.

Born to Kanagavalli and S Balakrishnan in August 2001, she is aware that she may have earned herself a Rs 5 lakh scholarship that can help her improve her training and push her towards winning an India call-up.

“Prabhakar sir keeps telling me that I can be a sub-54 second runner soon. I don’t want to let him down,” she said, determined to keep working hard.

Somewhere in Kallankurichi in Ariyalur, a farm labour and his wife will be smiling that their daughter has achieved something big at such a small age.

Future Stars – Malvika Bansod – Gold Medal – Badminton Singles

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Before winning Gold at KISG – Malvika was also the finalist at National Juniors. (Source)

Left-handed Malvika Bansod won the girls’ badminton gold with a score line of 21-12, 12-10 against Aakarshi Kashyap to give Maharashtra its final gold in the first ever Khelo India School Games.

Having lost the National Junior Championship U17 final in Guwahati to finalist Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod took her revenge and came up with a better outcome at the Khelo Games. Both the finalists had not dropped a game on their way to the final. The expectations were of a rousing contest, but Malvika from the Shivaji Science College, Nagpur, was a picture of confidence and intensity.

The dapper left-hander needed only a shade over half an hour to accomplish her mission. She moved on the court with agility and mixing her shots to make the final her own show.

Daughter of dental surgeon, Malvika Bansod remained a picture of composure throughout the match, focusing on completing the victory and clenching her left fist in a victorious gesture.

Future Stars of Indian Sports – Former and Current Greats have their say

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – Union Sports Minister and Olympic Silver Medallist

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The Khelo India program will reward grassroots coaches with cash incentives. (Source)

“The idea of the KISG is to build a strong pool of talent leading up to the Olympics in 2024, 2028 and so on. The idea is to make it aspirational for youngsters to have regular competitions. They can come through School Games to College Games and so on till they get to Asian and Commonwealth Games, and finally Olympics.”

Deepa Malik – Silver Medallist 2016 Paralympics

“It is high time we pushed the country to become a sporting nation. If we talk about sports excellence then the total population of the country doesn’t matter. What matters is the sporting population. It’s only when we start catching talent at a young age that we help in inculcating the habit of sports as a healthy lifestyle.”

P.T Usha – The Sprint Queen of India

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Sprint legend P T Usha is mightily impressed with the opportunities KISG has presented young athletes.

“We didn’t have a system that Khelo India School Games is trying to put in place to capture, groom and nurture talent. Our young athletes are very fortunate to find this kind of support from the government.”

Dola Banerjee – Arjuna Award winner

“Initiatives like KISG will change the future of Indian sports. The path breaking concept will not only help archery but also stimulate the growth of Indian sports in entirety. KISG will act as a catalyst for schools to introduce sports as an activity in time-tables. The scholarship amount will play a key role in changing the mind-sets.”

Kunjarani Devi – Winner of 50 international medals

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Kunjarani Devi – The Manipuri Girl who Inspired a Generation.

“I wish we had events like KISG for that would have given us a great start. It was a pleasure to interact with these kids. Some of them come from very humble backgrounds. If they get scholarships and an opportunity to study and play sport at the same time, they will develop into champions and excellent people.”

Karnam Malleswari – Olympic Bronze Medallist in Weightlifting

“There is so much talent in weightlifting at the junior level that it is unbelievable. I was amazed to see the hunger and the willingness to work hard and do well. If these children are given the right opportunity, they will most certainly become champions. Through Games like these, I want more youngsters take up the sport.”

Anju Bobby George Olympian and World Championship Medallists

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Anju Bobby George made India and Indians proud at various world championships during her playing days.

“It’s a great platform for the youth of our country. This is the first time they are getting this kind of support from the government. When we were in school, there was hardly any support to pursue a career in sports. We used to do everything on our own. It was only after we started competing and winning at the international level, people took note of us and only then the government stepped in with support. The kind of a support system that the Khelo India initiative intends to put in place for young athletes will go a long way in bringing an incremental change in India’s sporting landscape.”

The Future Stars were Broadcasted Live on Star Sports. How was the viewership? 

  • International standard audio-visual coverage in High Definition entailing 10 live cameras and 8 roaming cameras to bring action from 16 different sports
  • Crew of 100 spread over 5 stadia and 11 indoor and 5 outdoor arenas to cover more than 70 events
  • Specially developed graphics packaged to add vibrancy to the coverage and capture the essence of the school games
  • 8 hours of live coverage each day broadcast on 3 Star Sports Channels and streamed on Hotstar to make the games available to the widest possible audience
  • Highlights of the games aired on Star India channels across Asia Pacific, UK & Continental Europe and middle-east to provide international exposure for the athletes
  • Enhanced commentary and studio shows helped explain rules of the game to improve comprehension and build profiles of India’s future sporting stars
  • Super slow motion cameras used for the first time in India to cover multiple domestic sports

Sanjay Gupta, MD, Star India has his say on our Future Stars and the KISG event

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Sanjay Gupta of Star India with Sports Minister Rathore.

“The perennial challenge for sports in India has been a deep-seated mind-set in our country, amongst parents, schools and communities, that textbook education is the only pathway to success. Sports, we believe, is as important as formal schooling and needs to accompany and complement formal education to power success. That is the mindset we need to foster in this country – and Khelo India is a critical step towards that objective.”

KreedOn throughout the games provided the readers all the details of the medal winners and their hardships to reach at this level. We hope the performances of all the winners inspire parents and teachers to encourage their kids to become the future stars of Indian sports.

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Vardan Pandhare
Vardhan is an author who loves creativity. He enjoys experimenting in various fields. After completing his graduation, he was sure about one thing! His love for sports. He is now living his dream of being creative with words in the field of sports. He has since then always brought the latest news and updates for all the sports fans.

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