Khelo India: Haryana girls shine as boxers help state lift the championship trophy, prize money doubled

Haryana boxers hogged the limelight on the last day of the Khelo India Youth Games here on Monday, with a few more girls becoming the state’s pride and joy by bagging gold medals in different boxing categories and helping the state lift the overall championship trophy.

Neha, daughter of an Army havildar, won gold in the girls’ 54kg final with a win over Aarti Dhariya of Uttarakhand.

“My father always wanted me to be a boxer. When I shifted from Jhajjar to Hisar to train under coach M S Dhaka at the SAI centre, I had to stay away from my family. But whenever I won a medal, my father would tell his friends and relatives about my achievement. To win the gold medal and to help Haryana become the overall champions is a special moment for all of us,” said Neha. Preeti of Silana village near Sonepat also did Haryana proud by winning a gold medal in the girls’ 60 kg category with a win over Kappana of Rajasthan.

Preeti had started boxing on the insistence of her father Harinder Dahiya, a farmer who died of Covid last year.

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With her maternal uncle Deepak Hooda being the Indian kabaddi captain, Preeti had initially taken up kabaddi before switching to boxing. She too shifted to Hisar to train under coach M S Dhaka. She has won more than nine international medals, including a gold each in the 2019 Asian Junior Boxing Championship in Dubai and 2021 Asian Youth Boxing Championship in Dubai.

“My father wanted me to take up boxing when I initially started playing kabaddi. As kabaddi is a team event, I soon switched to boxing and shifted to Hisar to train at the SAI Academy. I want to dedicate this gold medal to my father,” said Preeti.

Haryana boxing team coach Gurmeet Singh said, “Most of these boxers had to sit at home during Covid-19 restrictions, but they did not skip their training. The girls showed that Haryana is number one in boxing in India and the boys too did well. Yes, there was some pressure of winning the gold in front of home crowd, and I am glad that 10 out of our 12 boxers, who reached the finals, won the title here.”

Altogether, Haryana boxers won 10 gold medals, including six by girls and 4 by boys.

At the end of the day, the biggest cheer was reserved for the boxers when Union minister of sports Anurag Thakur handed over the trophy to boxers and other players at the Fourth Khelo India Youth Games at the Indradhanush Auditorium in Sector 5.

Prize money of medal winners doubled

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar announced that the prize money of the Khelo India medal winners be doubled. The government would also set up a sports academy with a hostel at Panchkula, he said. “A training academy with a hostel will be opened to accommodate 200 players,” said Khattar. Now Rs 1 lakh for gold medal winners, Rs 60,000 for silver medal winners and Rs 40,000 for bronze medal winners.

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