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Avani Lekhara, Shaili Singh, Salima Tete shine in 2021, set requirements for years to return

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To outline who an rising athlete is in an Olympic-Paralympic yr is usually a long-winded train. To slender it down to at least one identify is even more durable.

Is it the junior who punched above their weight? Is it the teenager who competes together with world champions? Is it the teenager who broke by means of on the worldwide degree and raised expectations?

The three younger girls who made it to the ultimate listing had been chosen on a easy precept — teen expertise examined on the hardest of tournaments, promising performances that meant extra for Indian sport than the consequence on paper.

A Paralympic champion. A World Athletics Junior Championships silver medallist. A standout participant in a workforce sport that narrowly missed an Olympic medal.

Totally different because the circumstances that received them the medals or matches had been, what binds Avani Lekhara, Shaili Singh and Salima Tete is just not their defining victory of 2021, however quite the promise their achievements maintain for the longer term. They’ve set an ordinary for his or her respective sports activities – para-shooting, athletics and hockey – with their breakthrough performances in 2021.

Shaili Singh

Shaili Singh, 17, turned India’s first medallist in lengthy bounce on the Athletics World U-20 Championships in Nairobi in August. With a bounce of 6.59m, she fell wanting gold medal by a mere centimetre.

However her feat was not about what she missed, as an alternative what she fulfilled.

Ever since she was 15 and breaking information in nationwide junior occasions, Shaili, the daughter of a single mom from Jhansi, was seen as the subsequent Anju Bobby George. Certainly, even Anju – nonetheless the one Indian to win a medal on the Athletics World Championships – sees herself in younger Shaili.

She and her coach (and husband) Robert Bobby George scouted Shaili when she was solely 13 and never even among the many medallists within the native meet. There was one thing concerning the then-frail teenager who they later skilled in Bengaluru. And the astute eyes of the Indian lengthy bounce specialists weren’t amiss. Shaili has grown into one among India’s most promising monitor and subject athletes and her U20 Worlds medal is extra proof of that.

Even earlier than Neeraj Chopra had breached the athletics Olympic medal mark for Indian sport, Shaili was seen because the hope for that once-elusive achievement. With a renewed concentrate on Indian athletics now, she is certainly somebody to be careful for, maybe starting from the Commonwealth and Asian Video games subsequent yr.

Avani Lekhara

Shooter Avani Lekhara created historical past as she turned the primary Indian girl to win gold on the Paralympics. She was additionally the primary shooter from India to win a medal on the Video games. She adopted her girls’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 gold with a bronze in girls’s 50m rifle 3-Positions SH1; one other first for an Indian girl. And he or she did all this whereas on a wheelchair.

A automotive accident in 2012 injured her spinal twine. Choosing up a borrowed rifle in 2015, impressed by former Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra’s autobiography, she went on to emulate Bindra in 2021 at simply 19 years outdated.

In Tokyo, Avani received two medals within the 4 occasions she competed in throughout the 10m and 50m disciplines – a bodily gruelling balancing act for the very best of rifle shooters. However for a wheelchair-bound teen who wants help with every day actions and is coming a yr off lockdown on the largest of levels in a nerve-wracking sport, it is an unbelievable problem. Avani completed it with spectacular composure and core energy.

Her age, her capability and her achievements in her debut Video games already set her aside and the 20-year-old Khel Ratna winner is certain to solely goal larger going ahead.

Salima Tete

To single out a person participant who did not rating a purpose in a workforce sport that did not medal on the Olympics might be an anomaly in any listing of achievers. However Salima Tete, the youngest participant within the Indian girls’s hockey workforce that completed fourth on the Tokyo Olympics, stands out due to her integral function within the workforce’s historic journey.

The midfielder, who turned 20 in December, was seen as a possible future star early on. She made her senior debut as an adolescent, was captain of the silver-winning workforce on the Youth Olympics in 2018 and have become a nationwide common in 2019.

Solely 19 earlier than the Tokyo Video games, she already had 29 caps to her identify and was trusted as an attacking midfielder. Her function behind the targets and the PC for an Indian aspect that surprised Australia with aggression and velocity can’t be understated.

Even in a comparatively younger unit, the speedy Tete is a robust long-term prospect for Indian hockey and the expertise she has gained reaching the bronze-medal match in her first Olympics will show to be a giant asset sooner or later.

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