India’s Next Generation of Women athletes from RFYS are ready!
The Tokyo Olympics have begun, and in these trying times, it has brought us together as a nation. The Olympic Games have also brought India enormous joy and pride, as the country won its first silver medal to open its medal tally! The incredible feat, achieved by Saikhom Mirabai Chanu in the 49 kg weightlifting category, painted the podium in India’s tricolour. Mirabai’s incredible feat in Tokyo raised the bar not only for Indians competing at the Olympics but also for the aspiring female athletes back home! India’s discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur qualified with a massive 64m and became the first Athletics finalist at the Tokyo Olympics. The women continued making waves when PV Sindhu became India’s first ever two-time Olympics medallist and the Indian women’s hockey team gave a tough fight to finish 4th. Golfer Aditi Ashok has been making her mark at the golf course. India's female athletes are undoubtedly making an impact on the global scene, with over 50 women athletes representing the country at the Olympics.
With women athletes gaining more and more prominence at the world’s biggest sporting stage, we look at some of the promising women of Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS). These young athletes have made a mark with their achievements despite the odds that their lives have thrown at them, and they have a long way to go. Here are just a handful of the incredible female athletes who prove that women do indeed run the world:
15-Year Old Sprint Hurdler - Sabita Toppo:
At a time when most 15-year olds like her are enjoying their final days of school life, sprint hurdler Sabita Toppo from the Reliance Foundation Odisha Athletics High Performance Center is making waves by conquering all hurdles, literally. Since joining the HPC, Sabita has bettered her timing more than once within a year. At the Junior National Championships in Guntur, Sabita won the Under-16 Pentathlon gold, breaking the national record in the process. In an unfortunate turn of events, Sabita lost her mother, her support system, last July but her family stays firm in their support of her athletic career. She aims to compete in multi-events and focus on the 100-meter hurdles, which is her favourite event. “And when I graduate to the senior ranks, I want to win a medal in the Asian Games and Olympics. I don’t compare myself with anyone while competing, just want to give my best,” says Sabita.
We are eager to see Sabita reach her epitome of excellence as she climbs up her sporting ladder!
Gold Standard by Sandra Mol Sabu:
Sandra emerged as the nation's fastest runner in the sub-junior girls 200M division with a breathtaking display of pace. She won her second gold medal at the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports National Championships 2019-20 with her performance. Her journey to international acclaim has just begun, and we look forward to seeing more of her accomplishments in the future.
The Record Maker - Harmilan Bains:
Harmilan Bains put in a dominant performance in the 1500M College Girls Final to win Gold at the RFYS Athletics National Championship 2019-20. Bains finished first with a timing of 4.27.84s. She further went on to win in the 1500M field with a personal best time of 4:08.70 in the 24th National Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships 2021 at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports complex, Patiala. The 22-year-old set the second-fastest time for a metric mile by an Indian woman.
The World No.1 U-18 Long Jumper - Shaili Singh
Coming from a humble background, Shaili Singh would run barefoot returning home with blisters. After being spotted by Anju Bobby George, the former long jump world champion and her husband, Robert Bobby George; they moved her to Bangalore to train her. The efforts paid off in November 2019 when Singh broke the national record for both under-16 and under-18 with a jump measuring 6.15m. Aged 16 at the time, she had also qualified for the Junior World Championships, which is for under-20s. Shaili also holds a long jump record at the 2019-20 RFYS City Championship.
These are some of our track & field athletes who are on their track to create athletic history. Following this, we see a couple of our female athletes who have been turning heads on the football grounds!
Tamil Nadu’s Teen Prodigies Lavanya and Mariyammal:
Lavanya and Mariyammal's personalities have been transformed as a result of pursuing their footballing dreams. Lavanya won the zonal stage of the 2019 Reliance Foundation Youth Sports (RFYS) tournament in Coimbatore, representing the Government Girls Higher Secondary School team in Namakkal, an achievement that enabled her to earn a berth in the National Final in Mumbai later that year. This later paved the way for the daily wage earners’ daughter to don the national colours at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Women’s Championships. The Indian team won a tense 5-3 penalty shootout against Bangladesh in the final, crowning Lavanya as an international champion!
Another Namakkal teen, Mariyammal has been a gifted athlete. Playing for the Tamil Nadu state team, Mariyammal scored 11 goals in 6 matches to lead them to victory at the junior nationals in Goa in 2018. Her remarkable skills earned her a spot in the national U-17 camp. In 2018 and 2019, she demonstrated her outstanding abilities at RFYS events, both at the Zonal level and at the National Final in Mumbai. Mariyammal also travelled to Turkey for a preparatory tournament with the Indian U-17 squad, where she scored three goals and finished as the tournament's top scorer.
By surpassing their humble beginnings, the teens are all set to make their mark on the international stage in national colours!
These are just a few of the many women that make up the vast pool of talent that exists at the grassroots level in our country. We are honoured to have paved the road for these young women to pursue their dreams of becoming athletes. With the entire nation witnessing our female Olympians raise the national flag, we wish to provide more opportunities for young girls who would like to be part of India's future generation of women in sports
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