Junior and Youth National table tennis champion Diya Chitale of Maharashtra displayed remarkable fighting spirit to emerge the U-17 girls’ singles champion and also claimed the doubles bronze at the Khelo India Youth Games 2020 in Guwahati, Assam today.
In an all-Maharashtra singles final, the 16-year-old produced a stunning show of resilience to edge out statemate Swastika Ghosh 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 3-11, 13-11. The two youngsters battled hard in the enthralling summit showdown where the deciding final game tested their grit and stamina.
While Ghosh held the initial advantage to go up to 7-2 in the decider and even had multiple match points, it was Chitale’s strong determination and confidence that helped her make a winning comeback. For Chitale, the win is even more special after she had to settle for silver medal the last time.
“We know each other’s games well and hence it was expected to be a close match. It was going well for me till the 4th game. I was leading 3-1 but then Swastika picked up her game and was going strong in the decider,” said an elated Chitale after her victory.
Maharashtra’s supremacy is further highlighted by the fact that they finished the overall champions in table tennis, riding on their rich haul of two gold, four silver and one bronze. Maharashtra also bagged the state champions trophy in both the U-17 and the U-21 categories to end a memorable campaign on a high.
Maharashtra regain top spot
Maharashtra picked up four gold on Day 5 to regain the top spot in the medal tally. Haryana, who had a spectacular day on Monday by scooping 12 gold, grabbed one yellow metal on Tuesday to slip to the second position. Maharashtra’s total medal tally stands at 89 – out of which 21 are gold – while Haryana has accumulated 54.
Delhi is at third with 41 medals, including 15 gold. Uttar Pradesh rose to the fourth position after winning four gold in the morning session on Tuesday to move ahead of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
With no gold coming their way on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu watched Madhya Pradesh jumped over it to the sixth place. Karnataka picked up three gold on Tuesday, one more than they had won over the past few days, to get into the top 10 where Tamil Nadu and Kerala are in the seventh and ninth spots on either side of Manipur.
Karnataka’s gold were won by Abhin Devadiga (men’s U-21, 200m), Akhilesh (boys U-17, triple jump) and judoka MN Vasundhara (women’s U-21, 63kg). Yet, it was Uttar Pradesh who minted the most gold medals on Tuesday morning, thanks to the boys U-17 squad’s stellar triple crown show.
Vijay Kashyap (200m), Uttam Yadav (1500m) and Mohammed Shahban (hammer throw) shone in athletics while Gaurav Kumar (parallel bars) did the same in gymnastics.
The four table tennis singles crowns went to paddlers from different states: Fidel Survajulla (Telangana, men’s U-21), Anusha Kutumbale (Madhya Pradesh, women’s U-21), Aadarsh Chhetri (Delhi, boys U-17) and Chitale (Maharashtra, boys U-17).
Fidel rallied from the opening set defeat to down Raegan Albuquerque (Maharashtra) 4-2 while Anusha Kutumbale had it easy against Srushti Haleangadi (Maharashtra), winning in straight sets.
Maharashtra would be ruing missing these two gold that would have helped them widen the gap with Haryana on the medal tally.
At the velodrome, Manipur’s Elangbam Singh scored a fine win over Karnataka’s Venkatappa Kengalagutti in the men’s U-21 Scratch Race while his team-mate Birjit Yumnan took the boys U-17 Scratch Race title, edging out home state’s Manobjyti Teron by 0.931 seconds.
Odisha cyclist Swasti Singh won the women’s U-21 Scratch Race from Keerthi Rangaswamy (Karnataka) by a 0.246 second margin while Maharashtra’s Pooja Danole picked up her second gold by winning the U-17 Scratch Race from Manipur’s N Biseshori Chanu by 1.978 seconds.
Gongutri returns with a bang
Gold medallist Gongutri Bordoloi’s cycling dream may have ended even before it took wing, if her mother had had her way. Five years back, the girl from Naogaon in Assam, suffered a massive road accident while training: it left her with a broken collarbone and multiple lacerations, injuries that kept her off the saddle for over a year.
She won the U-21 girls road race cycling gold medal. “When she saw my state, my mother put her foot down, and told me to give up the sport,” the 17-year-old said. “But my father, a policeman, stood by my side, fought for me and made me cling on to my passion when I could have been down and almost out.”
“My dad is a fighter, my inspiration. He said if at all I have to quit it has to be on my terms, not because I had an injury,” she explained.
With a gold in her pocket now, Gongutri can bury the idea of quitting for good. Not that she was really contemplating it. In an exciting road race, that wasn’t without its own challenges where a back row scuffle left nine competitors injured and unable to finish – it was Gongutri’s late surge that won her the gold. “I was a sprint cyclist earlier, but the injuries mean that I can’t burst through quickly now,” she said.
“I switched over to the pursuit and the road recently. Even today I was nervous, because I didn’t want to crash. I saw the commotion behind me and ensured I wasn’t near it.”