Even as the youngsters at the inaugural Khelo India School Games stay focused on their journey to the National and International platform in sport, many are also taking their academics and schooling very seriously.
As the Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed at the Opening Ceremony, the importance of sport is the overall development of young minds. The swimming pool at the Dr. SP Mookerjee Swimming Complex has been a perfect evidence of that, as they have balanced winning of medals with academics very well.
Karnatakas Suvana C Bhaskar who won two gold and four silver in the competition, emphasised that she was able to pull off excellence in the pool despite a break in training. I'm definitely happy to win gold. I wanted to make a statement out here and I did that with wins in the 100m and 200m backstroke," she said. I had taken part in the South Zone finals in Chennai just two weeks back where I got eight gold medals."
Her team-mate Khushi Dinesh, who won 200m and 400m freestyle gold and two silver in the 4x100m relays said she was a bit rusty coming into Khelo India School Games because there was a break due to exams. Races like these tell me that I have a long way to go. I tried to improve but had a few errors. I could have done better, nevertheless I ended up winning silver," she said.
Multiple National record holder Srihari Nataraj, who has won four gold medals and a silver in the boys' events, studies at the Jai Hind College in Bengaluru and stressed how his teachers and college have been supportive in his quest for glory, laying emphasis on his performances in the swimming pool.
Manipurs Maibam Mangalsana Meitei, who won boys 100m breaststroke gold and 200m breaststroke bronze, was not overawed by the competition. I know most of the stronger swimmers come from States that have great infrastructure for sport. Manipur may not be as great but still has sufficient facilities so I am able to train at a good level," he said.
Mangalsana Meitei, who comes from a State with a rich sporting heritage. explained how delicate the balance between studies and elite sport is. My focus is on studies at the moment. My focus on training is between April and September, and during October-March I shift my focus to studies. I only do physical training (gym and running) during these months to keep myself fit. I was confident of getting medals and I am happy that I got them."
Delhis 14-year-old Swadesh Mondal moved from rural Bengal to Delhi in order to gain ground through the National Swimming Academy here, and lives in the Pool Complex, while doing the balancing act with the Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya School. The first half of my day comprises mostly training after which I have to attend school. I return in the afternoon to the pool. I study for a couple of hours after dinner. My school and teachers have been very supportive as well, encouraging me to focus on my swimming so I can keep getting better," he said.
Khelo India School Games has succeeded in showcasing talent across 16 disciplines.
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