[India], Feb 2 (ANI): Tribal Girl Tai Bamhane of Maharashtra bagged a gold medal in girls' 800 metres race category in the first Khelo India School Games here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Friday.
Diminutive Tai Bamhane was up against the Kerala duo of Priscilla Daniel and Sandra AS. And, from the distance, her coach Vijender Singh only had to watch her body language when she entered the track.
He need not have worried as Tai Bamhane - a Warli tribal from western Maharashtra - ran the two-lapper with the assurance and fearlessness of a seasoned runner.
The 15-year-old student of Marathi-medium Vidyaprabodhini Prashala (Nashik) stayed ahead of her rivals, both of whom had clocked faster times in the semifinals heats on Thursday, and won in 2:13.37.
Working as a Sports Authority of India coach in the Bhonsala Military School since 1991, Vijender has been discovering, encouraging and guiding raw talent from the backwaters. He has been the guiding spirit for a number of athletes like marathoner Kavita Raut, distance runner Sanjivani Jadhav, Ranjit Patel, Kisan Tadvi and many more, working quietly at the grass-roots level to keep producing champions.
He added, "Nashik's year-round climate and the fact that its nearly 700m above sea level helps the middle- and long-distance runners. Yes, the tough life that some of these girls are subject to because of their family backgrounds - they carry 20 to 30 litres water on their heads for a good 15km also prepares them as strong athletes."
Vijender Singh says that it is a two-way street now, with athletes also seeking him out now. "As many as 20 kids who are training with me are from outside Maharashtra," he said. "We are drawing attention of corporates, too, but we are blessed that a whole bunch of doctors providing wonderful support to our athletes."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first Khelo India School Games here at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. It is a nine-day event which will be concluded on February 8.
The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in the country at the grassroots level and make India a sporting nation.(ANI)