CHENNAI: Finally, after all the pulling and pushing and the highs and lows that accompanied the build-up, the 35th National Games kicked off in Kerala on Saturday.
Many issues plagued the few months preceding the event, like the withdrawal of stars Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu to the disturbing yet predictable fact that many venues and lodging facilities were not complete despite the deadline.
Now that these issues have been put aside, the focus can turn to the action, and no one else will be more pleased that they can finally get on with it more than the youngsters waiting to use this platform to announce arrival on the big stage.
A V Jayaveena could certainly be one of them. The swimming protégé has for long been touted for bigger deeds and she has not disappointed. A good performance in God’s Own Country is sure to do her a world of good.
“It’s like a small Olympics, and any youngster taking part will get good exposure and the experience will be of great help as well. I’ll participate in five individual and two team events. The aim is to bag gold in 50m and 100m breaststroke. First place in the 200m individual medley is also possible,” said the 16-year-old.
Jayaveena had words of praise for Richa Mishra, who on her comeback at the senior nationals in Kolkata last year defeated the Chettinad Vidyashram student. “For anyone to win after a long break is amazing. This time too, she’ll take part in all events, so I’ll give my best when we face off in the pool,” said Jayaveena.
Tamil Nadu will bank heavily on Jayaveena and the other girls to bag medals, but coach B Girish doesn’t want to go in with set goals. “Apart from Jayaveena, V K R Meenakshi and P M Abishiktha also have the potential to bag medals. Though there is less expectation from the boys, T Emil Robin Singh and T Sethu Manickavel could cause ripples. Also, I prefer not to go into any event with a medal tally in mind. If we perform well, then there’s nothing like it,” he opined.
Abishiktha, the 12-year-old who trains under former national coach K K Mukundan, sees the Games as a way of improving. “This is a good chance for us to give our best and see how we fare against top swimmers. I’m sure Tamil Nadu will do well and we’ll return with medals,” she said.