4 Gujarat paddlers make the cut

Filzahfatema, Ishaan, Kaushal, Chitrax selected for the Khelo India's Talent Development Program

Gandhidham : Three male and one female paddlers from the state, who appeared in the selection trials held at Indore last month, have made it to the Khelo India’s Talent Development Program. Ishaan Hingorani, Kaushal Bhatt, Chitrax Bhatt and Filzahfatema Kadri will be getting scholarship and train at the Sports Authority of India’s Academy at Kolkata.

The Sports Authority of India selected 734 athletes from more than 20 disciplines for the scholarship program under Khelo India Talent Identification Scheme. Selected players will be sent to SAI accredited academies that will take care of training, boarding and tournament expenses of the of the players. The four selected Gujarat paddlers will travel Kolkata. Each paddler will receive annual stipend of Rs 1.2 Lakh, which will be given on quarterly basis.

The only female paddler, from Gujarat, to make it to the August list, a Surti, Filzah is super thrilled. “This is a big moment of my life. Being only girl makes me proud at the same time its added responsibility on my shoulder. Based on my game aptitude of my fellow mates here will be judged. And I am not going to let them down. Like Manika Batra, I wish to win laurel for the country. For that I am ready to work hard,” remarked Filzah, who will appear for her Class X board exams next year. For a record, Filzahfatema won Youth Girls’ title last year.

Meanwhile, Gandhidham-based and defending Youth Boys’ State Champion Ishaan was ecstatic. Recalling his stay at Indore trials, Ishaan got ample time to display his talent. After being selected, Ishaan is ready raring to go. “This (the scheme) is the best thing that could have happened to table tennis. As top 20 players of country are going to practice and play under one roof, it will help me to improve my game. Consequently, win medals for the country. I am sure the atmosphere is going to be exhuberent. All selected players are going to learn a lot,” said Ishaan.

Bhavnagar’s Kaushal Bhatt is equally excited. Sharing his story during the Indore camp, he said, “During the trials, there was no pressure of winning that kept me relaxed and allowed me to express freely on the table. Of course, experts team was present keeping a vigil eye but I played my natural game and most importantly, I tried to enjoy each and every moment. That proved crucial in my selection.”

Chitrax Bhatt, who swept the Sub Junior Boys section at the State Ranking Tournament, will be closely watched. The lanky paddler has been doing well not only in his Junior category but Youth and Men’s section as well, in the state competitions.

Applauding achievements of the quatret, Gujarat State Table Tennis Association president Shri Vipul Mittra, IAS, said, “Gujarat players have once again displayed they have talent. First milestone has been achieved. I am sure all these four players are going will grab the opportunity with both hands, work hard towards their goal and make all of us proud.”

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