Hyderabad: Khhel Udaan Project, a joint initiative by Pullela Gopichand Badminton Foundation, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Mytrah Foundation, is turning out to be a boon for several athletes from Telangana who belong to a humble background.
Started in February 2017 with 35 athletes on board, they bagged a total of 362 medals including 13 international medals so far.
One of the major beneficiaries of the project, Dutee Chand went on to win two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta. Dutee’s silver in 100m was India’s second at the Games after PT Usha’s silver medal at the 1986 Asiad in Seoul.
Continuing the fine show, two athletes, Jeevanji Deepthi and N Sreenivas who were participating in an international event for the first time made the country proud in the third Youth Asian Athletics Championship held in Hong Kong recently by winning two medals apiece.
Sreenivas won a gold medal in the medley relay team event and a silver medal in the 200m race. Deepthi secured a bronze medal in the 200m race while also bagged a silver medal as part of the medley relay team.
Talking about his success during the cash incentives distribution programme, organised as part of the project, Sreenivas said this achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the project. “SAI coach Nagapuri Ramesh sir has been a great help to me. I come from a poor background and Dutee is my inspiration,” he said.
Ramesh, a Dronacharya awardee, recalled how he spotted and joined Deepthi in the academy. “Deepthi’s parents are from a humble background and were initially hesitant to come to Hyderabad. I briefed them about the initiative and now she has won a medal in her first international appearance. Her parents, who are daily wage labourers, have sacrificed a lot for her,” he said.
Deepthi said her performance at an athletics event in Khammam was noticed by Ramesh and he urged her to join in Hyderabad. “I’m very happy about my achievement. Hopefully I can win more medals in future,” she said.
Cash incentives were also awarded to athletes A Nandini, CH Padmasree, M Shirisha, M Supriya who excelled in national events. Chief National Badminton Coach P Gopichand, Telangana Athletics Association president Stanley Jones and Mytrah’s Goutam Kailash congratulated the achievers.