Ending the tournament on a high, the Maharashtra Under-17 and Under-21 gymnastics teams walked away with the overall title in both categories by a comfortable margin ahead of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. In all, Maharashtra finished with 14 gold medals (U-17 five and U-21 nine), a media release said. The first day in the U-17 category was dominated by Uttar Pradesh. The rhythmic gymnastics all-around competition that followed saw Bavleen Kaur of Jammu and Kashmir steal the show. However, the final day of the U-17 category belonged to Maharashtra. It was the day of apparatus finals and the hosts won 17 medals which took their total to 21. Maharashtra topped the U-17 medal tally with 21 medals (Golds-5, Silver-7 and Bronze-9), followed by Uttar Pradesh with 10 medals and West Bengal with four (G-4). The story of the Under- 21 category was similar.
On the first day, Maharashtra secured three medals. The women's artistic all-round competition was won by West Bengal, while the rhythmic gymnastics (IAAC) section was won by Aditee Dandekar, another Maharashtra gymnast. Maharashtra took the U-21 championship with a total of 18 medals (Golds-9, Silver-6, Bronze-3). West Bengal finished second with 11 medals while Uttar Pradesh was third with six.
Maharashtra gymnastics team head coach Mahendra Babhulkar credited the strong performance to the fact that they had the opportunity to practice at the host complex in Mhalunge-Balewadi days before the event. Many of his young gymnasts have been training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Babhulkar said having a SAI training centre in the state makes a huge difference to his gymnasts as facilities and equipment are very good.
Akshata Basvani Kamati of Karnataka has won a gold medal in the under-21 age 71 kg category in weightlifting at the Khelo India Youth Games. Kamati, the daughter of a farmer, initially seemed nowhere in the running for the gold. She heaved a modest 73 kg in the snatch and then failed twice at 76 kg, while her main rivals -- fellow Karnataka lifter Lavanya Rai (79) and PH Roshni of Arunachal Pradesh with 77 -- built a handy lead. Stung by that reverse, Kamati opened with a successful attempt at 100 kg in clean & jerk and then improved it to 103 kg before failing at 107 kg in the next two attempts. Her rivals were nowhere close with Rai managing 95 kg, but failing at 98 kg, which, had it been successful, could have given Rai the gold.
Rai's attempt in snatch, Kamati's attempt in clean & jerk and the total were all new records for junior women. The two Karnataka girls were clearly the pick and with totals of 176 kg by Kamati and 174 kg by Rai, they were way ahead of third place holder Roshni (167 kg), a media release said Monday.
Kamati comes from Halaga near Belgaum. Her tryst with the sport was a case of love at first sight, which happened while taking a stroll in a gym at the Sharda Girls High School back home. Once hooked, she represented her school at the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA) competitions in Bellari, landing a gold medal in her maiden major tournament. There was no looking back after that.
Kamati credited her father for encouraging her towards the sport. "My father plays a very important role in my life. I have his unconditional support and he ensures that there are no hindrances of any kind in my sporting journey," she was quoted as saying in the release. In 2014, Kamati began training at the Sports Authority of India's Bengaluru centre under coach Virpal Kaur. "When I saw Akshata for the first time, I was sure that she was made for weightlifting. Her BMI (body mass index) is very suited to lifting. Her technique is special and it will take her to high levels," said Kaur.