Tamil Nadu is ready to host the Khelo India Youth Games

All in readiness: The Khelo India Youth Games will be inaugurated at the Nehru Stadium on Friday.

A refurbished athletic track at the Nehru Stadium will welcome the athletes when the Khelo India Youth (u-17 boys and girls) Games (KIYG) gets inaugurated at the Nehru Stadium here on Friday. The Games conclude on January 31. A renovated velodrome for cycling at the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University (Melakottaiyur) will be an added attraction.

With more than 5000 sportspersons across 26 disciplines taking part in KIYG, the Games will witness hectic competition in all the events happening in four cities – Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, and Tiruchi. Most of the disciplines (20) will be held in Chennai.

Maharashtra, the defending champion, has been a powerhouse in KIYG having won the overall championship three times and finishing runner-up twice in the previous five editions.

Vijay Bapurao Santan, chef-de-mission of Maharashtra, is confident of repeating its dominance this time around. “We are prepared. There has been tough competition from Haryana and Madhya Pradesh in the last two editions. We have selected the best athletes with the support of the Maharashtra Government and our respective State Associations,” he told The Hindu.

Santan said Maharashtra, with a contingent of 415, will be eager to do well in areas it has done previously and do better in disciplines it has not done so well. “We have done really in archery, boxing, swimming, shooting, and athletics. We must do far better in cycling and kabaddi.”

Host Tamil Nadu, in a release, said it has set a target of finishing in the top three in the medals tally. Consisting of a 522-member contingent, TN’s chef-de-mission J. Mercy Regina, said the State is hoping to close in on a century of medals.

“The State government has been investing heavily in identifying and nurturing talent at the grassroots level and the contingent shows how much progress we have made. With the World Beaters Talent Spotting Scheme, 27 sports hostels have been established,” said Regina.

Explaining the rationale for her optimism, she added: “In the earlier edition, we had a restriction on the number of players we could field based on the national ranking. But being the host this time, we can field a larger contingent.”

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