Khelo India Youth Games | Unnati Hooda bags gold in girl's singles, Tasnim Mir settles for silver

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Rising star Unnati Hooda came back from the brink to clinch the Girls’ badminton crown, making up for the setbacks suffered by Haryana’s kabaddi and volleyball boys in the Khelo India Youth Games. Her victory kept the hosts stay atop the Standings Table with 17 gold medals on day 5.

Defending champions Maharashtra added two gold to rise to 14 to hold on to their second position. They will, however, be wary of Manipur who is quietly culling medals in different sports and has already collected 11 gold. Fourteen-year-old Unnati, the youngest Indian girl to make it to the Uber Cup team, looked down and out against former World Junior No. 1 Tasnim Mir after losing the opening game 9-21 and trailing 11-18 in the second.

But she didn’t give up and began frustrating Tasnim with her patient play. Tasnim tried to force the pace and earn quick points, allowing Unnati to come back into the contest. She saved four match points, including a lucky net-chord that helped her win the second game. The decider was then a lop-sided affair, with Tasnim unable to recover her rhythm. Unnati won 9-21, 23-21, 21-12 in 47 enthralling minutes.

Maharashtra’s Darshan Pujari clinched the Badminton Boy’s Singles gold, beating S Rithvik Sanjeevi of Tamil Nadu 21-15, 22-20 to lift the spirits in their camp. Earlier, in the Boy’s Kabaddi final, Himachal Pradesh fought back in the second half to beat hosts Haryana in extra-time. The two teams went neck-and-neck in the first half. But the hosts looked like running away with the match when they opened up a 10-point lead, with just under five minutes left for full time.

But Himachal began closing the gap, first with a spectacular tackle and then with a super raid. They then packed off the entire Haryana team to level the scores at 34-34 at full time. The Himachal players then kept their cool to catch all the five Haryana raiders while one of their raiders scored a bonus point to score one point more than their opponents.

Elsewhere, athletics action began with Madhya Pradesh’s Arjun Waskale bagging the first gold medal on the track, clinching the Boys 1500m race (3:51.57 seconds). Maharashtra’s Aniket Mane added a gold to his state’s tally with a 2.07m leap in the Boy’s high jump while Manipur’s Huidrom Bhumeshwory Devi of Manipur showcased her sprinting ability in the last lap to win the Girls 1500m race (4:40.40 seconds).

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