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Khelo India Games embodiment of PM's interest in harnessing power of youth: Anurag Thakur

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Chennai, Jan 31 (PTI) The sixth edition of the Khelo India Youth Games-2023 held in four districts of Tamil Nadu for 13 days concluded on Wednesday with Maharashtra securing 158 medals, the top spot and Tamil Nadu, the host state and Haryana, finished second and third respectively.

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Addressing a glittering closing ceremony here, Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur said the Khelo India Games envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi provided the youth a platform to showcase their talent.

The Union Minister, who gave away the trophies to winners, said: "With every Khelo India Youth Games, we have grown in stature. It is with immense pride I mention that 4454 young athletes across 26 competitive sports from 36 States/Union territories battled it out for glory, fueled by their athletic zeal and the unwavering spirit of sportsmanship. There was almost equal representation at the games with 2307 male athletes and 2147 female athletes competing." The Khelo India Games envisioned by the PM is the embodiment of his interest in harnessing the power of the youth and giving them a platform to showcase their talent.

PM Modi has constantly supported the youth, be it attending the opening ceremony of the Khelo India Youth Games in Tamil Nadu during the 11-day Anusthan (self penance) leading up to the Ram Temple consecration or visiting Nashik for Youth Programmes during the same time so as to motivate them, Thakur said.

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"His constant interaction with athletes before, during and after tournaments has been a key reason for their heightened confidence on the field," he added.

Maharashtra finished in the top position with a total of 158 medals (57 gold, 48 silver, 53 bronze) while Tamil Nadu and Haryana took the 2nd and 3rd positions respectively, bagging 98 medals (38 gold, 21 silver, 39 bronze) and 103 medals (35 gold, 22 silver, 46 bronze).

On the humble background of several athletes, Thakur said Panchami Sonowal of Assam broke as many as three national youth records in the 49kg weightlifting category. "She is the daughter of a tea seller in Assam." Similar is the case with regard to a number of others as well like Durga Singh of Bihar who 'shattered the 1500m Games record.' Weightlifter Jyoshna Sabar from an Odisha village, after winning bronze at the World Youth Championships in Albania last year, has "shattered the national snatch record on her way to the gold medal in the 40kg category." "I congratulate Maharashtra for securing the top spot in the medal tally with 158 medals, and to the host, Tamil Nadu and Haryana, for finishing second and third, respectively. Let's continue to build on the spirit and legacy of the Khelo India Games." The Union Minister conveyed his gratitude to the government of Tamil Nadu and stakeholders for the successful conduct of the Games.

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Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin said the success of Khelo India Youth Games 2023 reaffirms the state's commitment to sports and its capability to successfully organise and execute grand events of national and international significance.

"Over the past 13 days, our state has been proud to host over 5,400 plus talented athletes from across the country showcasing their sporting skills in various disciplines." Tamil Nadu sent the largest contingent ever for a host state as it had around 600 athletes participating in this edition of the games.

"This is the first time our Tamil Nadu stands in top three in the medal tally in the history of the Khelo India Youth Games." In June 2023, Chief Minister M K Stalin invited Manipur athletes to train in Tamil Nadu.

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"About 15 fencing athletes came for the training in Tamil Nadu. They stayed here for more than a month...we are proud that two of them, Huiningshumbam Bala Chanu and Sanjenbam Bicky, have won the bronze medals for Manipur in this edition of Khelo India Youth Games," he said.

On the occasion, the Tamil Nadu Sports Minister announced the launch of "Kalaignar Sports Kit" scheme in 12,000 village panchayats. "I will be launching the scheme in Tiruchirappalli on February 7." Under the scheme the youth will be provided sports equipment.

Late DMK president and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is addressed as 'Kalaignar.' Udhayanidhi said the state's Tamil Nadu Champions Foundation, serves as an inspiration to talented athletes, offering financial assistance to those who need it the most.

"It was with immense pride I announce that athletes sponsored by the Tamil Nadu Champions Foundation have secured a total of eight medals in the Khelo India Youth Games and five out of the eight medals are gold medals." At the closing ceremony, Lok Sabha member Dayanidhi Maran, Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister PK Sekar Babu and top officials took part. Prime Minister Modi in the presence of Chief Minister Stalin inaugurated the Games on January 19 here. PTI VGN SA

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