National Games 2022: A look at top athletes from Reliance Foundation Scholarship and Odisha HPC program competing in Gujarat

The National Games are being held after a gap of seven years, with Reliance Foundation (RF) Scholarship Athletes as well as Odisha High Performance-Centre (HPC) Athletes looking to make the most of the opportunity.

The National Games 2022 will be held in Gujarat from September 27 to October 10. The events will be held across six cities - Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Bhavnagar. Gujarat will be hosting the Games for the first time in its history.

The National Games were first held in Lahore, British India, in 1924. Now in its 36th edition, over 7000 athletes, including Olympians and international medallists, will feature in 36 sports which include both indoor and outdoor competitions.

Another RF Scholarship Athlete, Manika Batra, has been India’s top women’s table tennis player for a long time and represented New Delhi at the showpiece event. She claimed a bronze medal in the women’s singles table tennis event, which began on September 20.

More girls lead RF scholarship and RF Odisha HPC’s medal hopes at the National Games with Odisha’s Jhilli Dalabehera, a former Asian champion, set to compete in women's 49kg weightlifting.

In the women’s track and field, RF Odisha HPC athlete Jyothi Yarraji, who holds the Indian national record in women’s 100m hurdles, will also compete.

Pragyan Sahu, also from RF Odisha HPC, won bronze at Indian Grand Prix 2 in March and silver at Khelo India University Games in 400m hurdles. The 22-year-old is also a 2018 South Asian Junior Athletics Championships silver medallist.

Pragyan Sahu's RF Odisha HPC teammate Susmita Tigga, a 3000m steeplechase athlete, will also be in action at the National Games. The promising 18-year-old won bronze at the Indian Grand Prix 2 in March with timing of 11:26.45.

RF badminton player Unnati Hooda, 14, became the youngest Indian to win a Badminton World Federation Super 100 event at Odisha Open in January. Unnati Hooda is from Rohtak, Haryana while Aditi Bhatt will carry the hopes for Uttarakhand.

Ace sprinter Amlan Borgohain from Assam, who holds national records in 100m and 200m races, is expected to headline his events.

RF Odisha HPC high jumper Swadhin Majhi, a bronze medallist at Indian Open Jumps Competitions in April, will also look to impress at the National Games. The 21-year-old, who fetched a silver medal at the Khelo India University Games 2022, has enjoyed a good season so far. Swadhin Majhi also registered an impressive jump of 2.10m to finish fifth in the top-class field at the Federation Cup in April.

RF scholarship weightlifter Achinta Sheuli made India proud by winning medals at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in August. Gold medallist Achinta Sheuli will compete in the men's 73kg category.

Indigenous sports such as kabaddi, kho-kho, mallakhamb, and yogasana have also been included in the National Games program.

The last edition of the National Games was held in Kerala in 2015, in which more than 7,700 athletes participated in over 30 sports events.

In the 2015 National Games, Services led the overall medals tally with 91 golds (159 medals overall) ahead of Kerala’s 54 (162 overall).

The 36th National Games was to be organized in Goa in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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