Champions shape their destiny by looking squarely in the faces of adversaries and adversity. Tamil Nadu’s J. Coleshiya might be just 15-years-old, but she has tackled both the challenges with a great panache and determination.
Her gold in the girls triple jump event in which she recorded a distance of 12.29 metres is a testimony of her talent and determination to excel in the face of surmounting odds. The student of St. Theresa’s Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Chennai lost her father at a very young age. It fell upon her mother, a flower picker by profession, who also works in a beedi factory to support her three children and nurture Coleshiya’s dreams of making it big in athletics.
Coleshiya showed early promise when she won gold in the u-14 long jump event for girls at the 32nd Junior National Championship in Coimbatore in 2016. Since then she has switched to triple jump, but her golden streak remains undiminished. The gold medal in the triple jump event in the Khelo India School Games is a vindication of a mother’s faith in her daughter. “I have been able to pursue by career only because of the support of mother. She had to make a lot of sacrifices. I am very happy to gift my mother another gold medal,” said Coleshiya.
The Tamil Nadu triple jumper won a gold medal in the SGFI National Games last year. Her coach, M. Dev Shekhar, is full of praise for the Khelo India programme, which is tended to help talented athletes just like Coleshiya. “I am thankful to the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs for laying the foundation of Khelo India. It will go a long way in helping athletes like Coleshiya. It will motivate them to work even harder and reach their true potential,” said Dev Shekhar.
Often there is so much focus on the fastest athlete in the men’s or boy’s sections, that the women’s or girls’ section gets overshadowed. While Delhi’s Nisar Ahmad was winning the boys 100m in 10.76s, there was also Avantika Narale of Pune grabbing the honours in Girls’ section.
Avantika from Lonkar High School, Pune, bagged gold at the first Khelo India School Games by completing the run in just 12.36 seconds. Avantika spoke highly of her coach and her supportive family and dedicated the medal to them.
A few years ago Avantika was very often seen making quick sprints in her school, and to her credit, she was always considered the fastest among her friends. But kabaddi was her first love before coming to athletics.
After seeing her speed in kabaddi, her physical training teacher, Shivaji Mehta, spotted her potential and urged her register herself in athletics. By the time she reached class 8th, athletics became her top priority. After she shifted to train under coach Sanjay Patankar, there was a marked upturn in her performance. Her academic career, however, took the back seat.
The Pune girl, who wants to visit Disneyland in future, claimed third position in 100m (12.47 seconds) in the 63rd National School Games Athletics Championship held in Bhopal last year. After dealing with mixed reactions for her third place finish, Avantika was determined to upgrade her game. Winning the gold medal in the Khelo India School Games gave her the satisfaction of achieving the goal, making her father proud. Avantika’s ultimate aim is to win an Olympic gold.
For Santosh Narale, her daughter’s performance in the KISG was a moment to cherish. “I am proud of my daughter. She is the best,” he said. He further added that he was expecting gold because she had worked very hard before these games. Talking about his financial problems, Santosh said that he feels upset at times because they cannot afford some of the things that Avantika craves for. But on the lighter note, he said that he will treat Avantika to chicken for her gold medal-winning performance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.