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Chennai Hosts Its Own Olympics: Youth from 38 Districts Compete in 15 Disciplines


Olympics: Chennai’s Sports Carnival Welcomes 27,000 Participants from 38 Districts for Multi-Discipline Competition

Opportunity for Youth to Overcome Adversity and Compete for Chief Minister’s Trophy 2023

Chennai: Unbeknownst to many residents, a vibrant sports carnival is underway in the city. Hundreds of participants, including students from schools and colleges, are giving their all in 17 different venues across the city to prove their mettle. While the government sees it as a trial run for the national-level Khelo India event in January, for many participants, especially women from underprivileged villages, it represents an opportunity to rise above adversity and achieve personal success. (olympics)

The prestigious Chief Minister’s Trophy 2023, offering a prize money range of ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh, is at stake. With grandiosity as its essence, the event witnesses the participation of around 27,000 athletes from 38 districts competing across 15 disciplines. These range from adaptive blindfolded volleyball, beach volleyball on Marina’s sands, football, basketball, hockey, swimming, to chess and silambam. The players are accommodated in 2,000 air-conditioned rooms in private hotels and lodges, and transportation is arranged via 72 chartered buses, providing an experience akin to that of IPL players – a first for the state.

Onlookers walking along Marina were pleasantly surprised to witness players disembarking from coaches and heading towards tents set up on the sandy beach – an unexpected sight for those assuming it to be an international event. It turned out to be an interdistrict match. (olympics)

Dharshini A, a 15-year-old participant from Nagapattinam, shared her experience, saying, “The match was tough, but we couldn’t secure a win as the other teams were well-trained. Nevertheless, I’m not disheartened because we gave our best, even without a coach. Next time, we plan to have a coach accompany us. I will now be participating in athletics in my district.”

For many participants, the journey from rural hamlets to the city itself felt like stepping into a whole new world. Rupa Varshini R, competing in weightlifting in the under 64 plus category, remarked, “The previous edition was challenging due to the pandemic, but this year is different. The players have comfortable rooms in private lodges and hotels. There’s constant availability of transport, water, first aid, and proper sports attire, including tracks and T-shirts.” (olympics)

Udhayanidhi Stalin, the Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development, expressed his views, saying, “These games will serve as a launchpad for participants to reach national and international levels. We are closely monitoring exceptional performances across all disciplines and will provide them exclusive training with foreign coaches and renowned academies within our state and across the country. The talents we discover today will be the stars of our future.”

The journey began in November 2022 when over 700,000 people enrolled themselves for various games in their villages and hometowns. District-level competitions were conducted from February to March 2023, involving 371,000 players. (olympics)

From Running for Shoes to Running for Glory

Ajay, a determined 15-year-old from Athoor in Dindigul district, initially took up running with the hope of winning a pair of shoes in local competitions. Although he fell ill and couldn’t participate in the run, his dedication and consistent practice caught the attention of an army official overseeing the event, who awarded him a pair of shoes as recognition.

Fast forward to 2023, the 19-year-old, despite having only 20% vision, secured second place in the visually impaired 100m run category of the CM Trophy 2023, earning a prize of ₹75,000. Ajay, accompanied by his father, humbly stated, “I’m still dissatisfied with not winning, but I will strive harder next time.” Currently pursuing agriculture at the Agriculture University in Trichy, Ajay aspires to achieve great things and aims to compete at the national level. (olympics)

Credit for his achievements goes to Rekha, an SDAT coach from Dindigul, who guides and coaches Ajay through weekly phone calls. He receives additional guidance and in-person training whenever he returns home. Ajay’s father fully supports his son’s passion, believing that if he is so dedicated, he should not be hindered. (olympics)

Farmers’ Daughter Aims for the Sky with Volleyball

Angel X, hailing from the farming village of Kallathikinaru in Tuticorin, found herself on the adapted volleyball team that secured second place in the CM’s trophy. Encouraged by her parents and the coaching she received at her former school, Angel recently enrolled in a college in Tirunelveli, with her parents always nurturing her dreams of reaching for the sky. Having never ventured beyond the village themselves, Angel’s parents trust her school to take care of her and eagerly listen to her stories of competition victories. Her father, Xavier P, lost two of his four children to cancer. (olympics)

Reflecting on her journey, Angel expressed, “In the school for the blind and visually impaired where I studied, they encouraged us to participate in everything. That’s when I discovered my love for sports. But now that I’ve moved to college, I worry that I won’t be able to continue.” She had been coached by her schoolteachers until the recent competition. Her father’s only wish is for her to make a name for herself and excel in whatever she does. (olympics)

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