Zeena Khitta continued her good form in the 10m air rifle event as she clinched gold at the Khelo India Youth Games with a score of 251.3 in Guwahati on Tuesday. Punjab’s Jasmeen Kaur and Sift Kaur bagged the silver and bronze medals respectively.

Khitta has backed up her excellent performance at the Nationals, where she defeated star shooters Mehuli Ghosh and Apurvi Chandela.

“I am feeling great. I am very proud of myself. Everything is going right for me at the moment. The training, hard work, everything is falling into place. We have trials for the Indian team this month. I will be focusing on that now,” said Khitta.

The 18-year-old, who hails from Rohru, dreams of becoming the first Indian woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

“My biggest dream is to become the first Indian woman to win a gold in the Olympics. For this year, I am aiming to participate in the senior ISSF World Cups and win golds in those tournaments,” said the shooter.

“I have played only Junior World Cups so far. I will be trying to book a berth in the Indian Olympic shooting team this year,” she added.

With little idea about the sport of shooting, bronze medallist Sift had decided to take up trap shooting before moving to the 10m air rifle event.

“I started practicing shooting in 2015. My father’s friend’s son, who is a Trap shooter, asked me to start shooting. At that time, I didn’t know about any other event, I thought I’ll take up Trap.

“But, when I went for an open district tournament, I saw participants at the 10m air rifle event. Then I took up 10m air rifle and started enjoying the event. I won my first medal (gold) in an invitational tournament in Jalandhar,” said Kaur.

The 18-year-old has her plans in place as far as the shooting tournaments are concerned, but she is hoping that she performs well in her 12th class board exams as well.

“My next aim is the India shooting team trials. I really want to go for an international tournament this year. And I have my 12th boards as well. So, hopefully, the exams go well.

“I want to be well-settled in life before going for an Olympic medal,” Kaur added.

Gujarat’s Sonal clinches gold in judo

Gujarat’s Dodiya Sonal was ecstatic after she won gold in the 44kg category judo competition at the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati.

The young judo athlete said that her parents have worked day and night to ensure that she is provided with all the facilities.

“We are not a very affluent family. My father is a rickshaw driver and works at the farm in our house. My mother works at the farm and takes care of all the work at home as well.

“It’s been quite difficult for my family to support my judo career. When I wanted to participate in selection trials, my father worked day and night to help me get selected,” said Sonal.

The judo athlete, who clinched gold in the last edition of the Khelo India Youth Games as well, said that the tournament is a fantastic one for young athletes.

“The Khelo India Youth Games is a great tournament for us. Every year, talented athletes are included in the Khelo India scheme and are provided with facilities,” said Sonal.

Gujarat has been making rapid strides in judo in the last few years and Sonal was quick to point out the rise of the sport in her state.

“Gujarat didn’t win too many medals in judo. But as the sport grew in the state, we started winning medals in state competitions. Earlier, everyone aimed for bronze in nationals, but now we have gold medallists from Gujarat,” Sonal added.

Maharashtra retain top spot

Assam took their gold medal haul to six while West Bengal had three yellow medal to their credit even as Maharashtra continued to lead the medals tally at the Khelo India Youth Games on Wednesday.

On a day when 17 gold medals were at stake, Maharashtra and Haryana picked up two each to stay on top of the medals tally. Maharashtra with 28 gold are on top with a total of 110 medals while Haryana are distant second with 73 medals which includes 23 top podium finish.

It was at the velodrome that Maharashtra picked up their twin gold medals with Kolhapur’s Pooja Baban Danole winning her fourth gold in the girls’ under-17 competition and Mayur Pawar emerging the fastest under-21 rider.

Haryana U-17 rider Arab Singh won the boys’ individual pursuit gold while Anjali Chaudhary claimed the girls under-21 25m pistol event to ensure that the gap with Maharashtra would not widen at the end of the day.

Uttar Pradesh edged ahead of Delhi to the third place after their boys under-17 volleyball team winning the final against a battling Uttarakhand. Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have 17 gold and 48 medals each and were separated by the silver medal count.

West Bengal struck gold through sprint cyclist Triyasha Paul, the under-21 Mixed Team rifle shooters Ayushi Poddar and Amartya Mukherjee as well as the girls under-17 volleyball squad.

The three gold show on Wednesday helped the State slip into the top 10 with seven gold among their 22-medal collection. Triyasha and Odisha’s Swasti Singh joined Danole as multiple gold medallists in cycling competition.

Assam’s Rimanju Roy showed that he could have possibly finished with a better medal in the individual pursuit by clocking a faster time in bronze medal ride-off than either rider in the under-17 final.

Kerala’s lone gold was won by the under-21 girls’ volleyball team who overcame early nerves to find their A game and beat West Bengal in straight sets.

The Gujarat boys, who turned the table to Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals, went on to beat Haryana in four sets while Uttar Pradesh boys defeated Uttarakhand by a similar margin.