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.