BENGALURU: It would not surprise anyone if ace swimmer Srihari Nataraj clinches a haul of gold medals in the upcoming Khelo India University Games (KIUG) in Bengaluru. Though he is only 21, he is an established swimmer and after having featured in top events across the world, such kind of competitions should be an easier task.
In fact, if the Jain University swimmer fails to dominate his events, that would grab headlines. The same can be said for India sprinter Dutee Chand, who will represent KIIT University in the second edition of the KIUG. Besides the duo, there are several big names like shooters Divyansh Singh Panwar and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, who featured at the Tokyo Olympics.
Long jumper Jeswin Aldrin, archer Madhu Vedwan, and shuttler Shikha Gautam are also relatively well known. So when these athletes turn out in their respective disciplines, apart from showing their supremacy, they will also treat the KIUG as preparations for their upcoming big events.
As for Srihari, who will compete in seven events, starting Monday, he knows the essence of time with the Asian Games and other big-ticket events in 2022.
“This is basically another senior nationals as many of the swimmers are going to be the same here too. This time, I want to win all the gold in events I compete for Jain. I will be doing my workout at Jain (University) itself in the morning even if it is my event day. Because of the big meets this year, I cannot afford to lose anytime. I am not too worried about my timings, but yes, it will be good to clock a good time. The main goal is to win the gold, no matter what,” said Srihari, who will take the KIUG on behalf of the competing athletes in the opening ceremony on Sunday.
Likewise Dutee, after winning two gold medals in the first edition, also has her focus on the quadrennial events scheduled in 2022. She is set to feature in the 100m and the 200m. “My major focus is definitely on the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, but whatever events are coming in between, I am trying to feature, like this KIUG in Bengaluru. I will also hope to improve upon my timings and even do better than last year,” she said.
However, the Games are not only about the stars, but the second edition is also going to witness some upcoming athletes. For instance, Priya H Mohan from Karnataka has been making the right noise in the 400m events with impressive wins under her belt in the domestic circuit. Also, the long jumper Ancy Sojan, who has won golds and one silver in the three events in India, is set to represent Calicut University.
“If I win, I will be happy. I am very happy with how my form has been in the last couple of months, and I am going to try my best to do well in Khelo India also. Chances are also there. I will try my best to win gold,” said the 21-year-old Ancy.