KIYG 2021: Sanyukta Kale lights up gymnastic arena with five gold medals

Maharashtra’s Sanyukta Kale swept all the five gold medals on offer in Rhythmic Gymnastics to emerge as the brightest star in the Khelo India Youth Games 2021 on Tuesday.

Far away in Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar’s Celestina Chelobroy too jumped into the spotlight, clinching her third cycling gold on Day 2 of the event.

Sixteen-year-old Sanyukta’s clean sweep helped Maharashtra (24 gold, 22 silver, 17 bronze) sneak past Haryana (23G, 20S, 29B) at the time of writing. The hosts added only six gold on Day 5 of the Games as their Boys went down fighting in the kabaddi and volleyball finals much to the dismay of their fans.

Sanyukta, 16, towered over the field, clinching gold medals in all-round, hoop, ball, clubs and ribbon rhythmic events. “I am very happy with my performance but my main focus is now to make it to the Indian team for the Commonwealth Games and then aim to qualify for the Paris Olympics,” said the Thane-resident.

While Sanyukta was on a roll, Celestina equalled her own record in the Khelo India Youth Games, pedalling away to her third gold at the IG Velodrome in New Delhi.

The 19-year-old had collected her first two gold medals, the Team Sprint (with Tina Maya) and Individual Sprint 200m events, on Monday itself. She rounded up her tally clinching the keirin 1500m gold, to match her own 2020 Khelo Games tally.

Maharashtra won both the 4×100 relays, the Girls 100m, the Boy’s high jump (Aniket Mane, with a 2.07m leap) to add to their two in wrestling and one in badminton.

At the time of writing, 24 states had won at least one gold while 30 have found a spot on the medals tally with Manipur holding on to the third spot with 12 gold.

Sadanand Kumar of Jharkhand was crowned the fastest boy of the meet, winning the 100m in 10.63sec while Maharashtra’s Sudeshna Shivankar dominated the Girls 100m event, clocking 11.79 seconds.

She then came back to anchor the 4x100m relay team for a gold immediately after the boys achieved the same feat.

Action began in athletics with Madhya Pradesh’s Arjun Waskale bagging the first gold on the track by clinching the Boys 1500m race (3:51.57 seconds).

Manipur’s Huidrom Bhumeshwory Devi of Manipur showcased her sprinting ability in the last lap to win the Girls 1500m race (4:40.40 seconds).

Elsewhere, Haryana’s rising badminton star Unnati Hooda came back from the brink to win the Girl’s singles title while their Kabaddi Boys lost a nerve-wracking final.

Fourteen-year-old Unnati, the youngest Indian girl to make it to the Uber Cup team, looked down and out against former World Junior No. 1 Tasnim Mir after losing the opening game 9-21 and trailing 11-18 in the second.

But she didn’t give up and began frustrating Tasnim with her patient play. Tasnim tried to force the pace and earn quick points, allowing Unnati to come back into the contest.

She saved four match points, including a lucky net-chord that helped her win the second game. The decider was then a lop-sided affair, with Tasnim unable to recover her rhythm. Unnati won 9-21, 23-21, 21-12 in 47 enthralling minutes.

Maharashtra’s Darshan Pujari clinched the Badminton Boy’s Singles gold, beating S Rithvik Sanjeevi of Tamil Nadu 21-15, 22-20 to lift the spirits in their camp.

Earlier, in the Boy’s Kabaddi final, Himachal Pradesh fought back in the second half to beat hosts Haryana in extra-time.

The two teams went neck-and-neck in the first half. But the hosts looked like running away with the match when they opened up a 10-point lead, with just under five minutes left for full time.

But Himachal began closing the gap, first with a spectacular tackle and then with a super raid. They then packed off the entire Haryana team to level the scores at 34-34 at full time.

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