India’s campaign at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires ended with the team winning three gold medals, nine silvers and one bronze.
Jeremy Lalrinnunga became the first-ever Indian gold medallist at the YOG after he aced the men’s 62 kg weightlifting category. Manu Bhaker, in a glittering career that shows no signs of slowing down at 16, won the women’s 10 metre air pistol gold.
Saurabh Chaudhary then finished 7.5 points ahead of his nearest rival to blow away the field to complete a double for India in the 10 metre air pistol.
Shooting proved to be India’s key sport as the contingent won two gold and two silver medals but the rest were spread around, Tababi Devi winning an impressive silver in Judo. Athletics, weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, hockey and archery all contributed to the final tally in what was undoubtedly India’s finest campaign till date.
Note: Mixed NOC event medals have not been added to the list below.
Gold, Men’s Weightlifting 62kg
Weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga became India’s first gold medallist in the history of Youth Olympic Games when he lifted a total weight of 274 kg to clinch the top spot on the podium in the men’s 62 kg category in Buenos Aires late Monday.
The world youth championship silver medallist, a product of the Army Sports Institute, opened up a 2 kg lead over Turkey’s Cancer Toptas after the snatch category, and started the clean and jerk after all his competitors had finished their three lifts. His first lift of 142 kg was enough to win him the gold but went on to lift 150 kg in his third attempt to end with a 11 kg advantage over the silver medallist.
Jeremy’s father boxed at the national level and was a junior national champion and it has been a boost for him and his four brothers. He would accompany his father for his boxing training and soon began training himself.
“My father was a boxer. He used to take us to his training sometimes and I picked up boxing slowly. It’s was great until I saw weightlifting,” Jeremy told Scroll after his gold. “There is this SYS academy in my village where a coach trains for weightlifting. I saw my friends doing it and I thought this is a game of strength and I need to do it.”
Read more about Jeremy’s journey here.
Gold, Women’s 10m air pistol gold
Bhaker, India’s teenage shooting sensation, added the Youth Olympic Games Women’s 10m Air Pistol Gold to a growing collection of gold medals, winning the event on day three of the Buenos Aires 2018 games with a score of 236.5. She thus became India’s first Youth Olympic Games Gold medalist in the sport of shooting.
Born to an engineer from the Merchant Navy and a school principal, she comes from village of Goria in Haryana. She stole the show at the 2017 National Championships in Kerala, where she won nine golds and broke the national record, held by Sidhu. She has won gold at Commonwealth Games, at ISSF World Cup in Mexico and at ISSF Junior World Cup in Sydney and Suhl — all these coming in 2018. She went without a medal at Asian Games but her coach Jaspal Rana said it spurred her on.
“Yes, I think definitely that could help. Though we all want to win but you can’t win everyday. You will rise one day, you will fall another. That’s how it is,” he said.
“But she has done well and I am really happy for her. There was pressure and there were so much expectations, which I don’t think is fair. At the end of the day, one must remember that she’s just a 16-year-old.”
Gold, Men’s 10m air pistol
Winning a gold medal at any age group level in a multi-national event is not easy but 16-year-old Chauhdary sure made it appear so when he blew the field away in the 10m air pistol final to clinch India’s third gold medal at the Games in Buneos Aires. The 16-year-old set the pace throughout the final as he finished a massive 7.5 points ahead of his closest rival.
Saurabh hails from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh and trains at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi. He has already won a gold medal at the Asian Games, which was his first major senior international event and is a junior World Champion as well. In the last one year, the teenager from Uttar Pradesh has done well at the national level, holding his own among veteran pistol shooters, and has notched up impressive numbers on the international junior circuit.
In 2018, he also bagged the gold in 10m air pistol with a junior world record score at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl in Germany. At the same event, he had won the mixed team gold with Devanshi Rana, ahead of compatriots Manu Bhaker and Anmol Jain.
Tushar Shahu Mane
Silver, Men’s 10m air rifle
The one who kick-started India’s medal rush in Buenos Aires. Shahu Tushar Mane clinched a silver in the men’s 10m air rifle on the opening day of competitions in Buenos Aires. Mane, who qualified third for the final, shot 247.5 to win the silver while Grigorii Shamakov took the gold with 249.2. Aleksa Mitrovic of Serbia won the bronze with a score of 227.9.
“He is slightly disappointed at having won the silver,” Suma Shirur, high-performance coach of the Indian junior team (rifle), was quoted as saying by DNA.
“This is where the children of today are different from before. His goal was to go for gold. So, even though he is happy at being India’s first medallist at these Games, there is a feeling within him that he could’ve done better. That says a lot about his attitude and hunger,” she added.
Silver, Women’s 44kg Judo
Tababi Devi Thangjam clinched a silver in women’s 44 kg judo and the teenager from Manipur became India’s first judoka to win an Olympic medal at any level. She went down to Maria Gimenez of Venezuela in the gold-medal clash. Tababi Devi is the Asian cadet champion in 2017 and won her second gold medal at the same level at the Cadet and Junior Asian Cup this year. At the continental level, she is a three-time champion.
Not long ago, she was training for the sport she loves in secret as her parents weren’t keen on her learning judo, which they thought were for boys.
“I would train in secret without telling them. When they first found out, they said that I wasn’t allowed. They would ask me, ‘Why are you doing judo, you might get injured? Study, or do anything but this.’ Sometimes they tried to stop me, but I’d always run away. They would get angry, but I loved (judo), particularly the fighting spirit,” the 16-year-old from Manipur told the official website of the 2018 Youth Olympics. But once she found her feet in judo, the teenager has enjoyed good success and the support of her family. She is supported by JSW Sports.
Silver, Women’s 10m air rifle
Before Jeremy and Manu, Mehuli Ghosh came within touching distance of the country’s first ever gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games but finished with silver in the 10m air rifle final after her just one bad shot in the final.
With two shots left in the final, Mehuli held a handy lead and needed a 9.9 off the final shot to clinch the gold medal but she shot her first 9 of the final. Denmark’s Stephanie Grundsoee won the gold medal.
Another poster-athlete for India’s young generation of shooters, Ghosh shot to the limelight after her silver medal at the Commonwealth Games
“I always liked to play sport, I used to do karate and swimming earlier. I also loved watching gunfights on screen, like Sholay and such films, and then there is a TV serials called CID, which I used to watch every day. As a child, I used to go to fairs and there was a game where you have to shoot balloons with a gun, I loved doing that and I always won prizes at fairs,” she had said recounting how she fell in love with the sport as a child.
Read more about Mehuli Ghosh’s journey as a shooter here.
Silver, Men’s Singles Badminton
One of India’s brightest prospects, former Junior World No 1 Lakshya Sen became the second Indian shuttler to win a silver medal at the event after HS Prannoy in 2010.
Seeded fourth, Sen went down fighting in the men’s singles badminton final, losing 15-21, 19-21 against China’s Shifeng Li who was the fifth seed.
Sen enjoyed a week to remember in Buenos Aires, not dropping a single game in the group stages till the semi-finals. He was involved in one of the matches of the Youth Olympic Games when he defeated second seed Kodai Naraoka from Japan in an absolute thriller.
Silver, Women’s 43kg wrestling
Simran had eased through the qualifying rounds of her girls 43kg category but found USA’s Emily Shilson to tough to handle in the summit clash. The 2017 Cadet world bronze medallist went down 6-11 against the eventual champion.
After trying her hands at gymnastics and badminton, and even acting in a Bollywood movie, Simran was introduced to wrestling five years ago. And on Saturday, she became only the second female wrestler from India to win a medal at Youth Olympics.
Training at the Tej Singh Akhara since four years, the Khelo India School Games champion has taken giant strides. She is one of India’s most successful wrestler at the cadet level being a two-time defending Asian champion and a bronze medallist at the World championships last year. She was also cast in 2016 film Sultan, as a trainee of lead character Anushka Sharma.
Read more about Simran’s journey here.
Men’s team: Silver medal
Women’s team: Silver medal
India won its first Hockey 5s Youth Olympics medal when Vivek Prasad and Co clinched silver after going down 2-4 to Malaysia in the final. Apart from a close 3-4 defeat against Australia, the boys in blue had won all their games going into the final but spurned an early lead in the gold medal battle to finish with silver.
Unlike their male compatriots, the Indian women were the underdogs in the final against two-time medallists and hosts, Argentina. But much like that final, the women’s team also lost after taking the early lead.
Salima Tete and Co made a spirited start, making the hosts scramble to get the ball. Despite the impressive Mumtaz Khan scoring an early goal, the Argentinean girls were enlivened by the raucous, partisan crowd.
Overall, a memorable first campaign at the Youth Olympics for India’s hockey teams.
Silver, Men’s 5000m race walk
Suraj Panwar clinched a silver in men’s 5000m race walk event to open India’s medal account in athletics. Panwar won the stage 2 competition by clocking 20 minutes and 35.87 seconds on Monday night but finished second overall.
In a new format, there are no finals in track and field (with the exception of 4km cross-country) in the Youth Olympics and each event is held twice, with results from both rounds counting towards the final standings.
The 17-year-old Panwar had finished second in the first stage in 20.23.30s, behind Patin Oscar of Ecuador. This was India’s first athletics medal in this edition and third overall. Arjun (men’s discus throw) and Durgesh Kumar (men’s 400m hurdles) had won a silver each in the inaugural edition in 2010.
“I knew little about race walking when I was running in my village but after I failed in sprint events, I tried race walking,” he told Scroll.
Silver, Men’s Recurve Individual Archery
The 16-year-old archer Malik created history by winning India’s first-ever silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Archery.
Malik lost the final 0-6 to Trenton Cowles of the USA but he displayed remarkable composure and an ability to come up with clutch arrows at the decisive moments throughout the tournament.
It was evident in the quarter-finals when Malik came from behind in the fourth and fifth sets to tie them both and win a tight-fought match 6-4. A product of the Army Sports Institute in Pune, Malik and his partner, Turkey’s Selin Satir finished eighth in the mixed team international event.
Bronze, Men’s Triple Jump
Praveen became the second Indian to win an athletics medal at the Games when he clinched a bronze medal in the men’s triple jump. The 17-year-old, who hails from a village in Thanjavur district, cleared a distance of 15.68m to finish fifth in the Stage 2 competition Tuesday night but his good showing in Stage 1, where he was third with a jump of 15.84m, took him to the podium with a combined effort of 31.52m.
A gold medallist in the inaugural Khelo India School Games this year, Praveen belongs to a poor family in a small village in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu and his father is a daily wage farm labourer.
Praveen luckily met a mentor in Indira Suresh, an athletics coach at the Centre of Excellence for Boys in Chennai who is an employee of the Sports Development Authority of India, and she groomed him. He now trains under Indira at Nagercoil.
Read more about his incredible journey here.