Aparna Roy, the Kerala girl with a Bengali  surname, could not stop smiling after defending her girls’ under-21 100m hurdles title and cornering her third gold medal in the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Aparna had won her first hurdles crown in the KIYG in under-18 category in 2018 and followed it up by taking the top honour in under-21 last year in Pune.

Even though her performance of 13.91 was not her best, Aparna’s joy knew no bounds on retaining the title.

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“I competed in the all-India inter-university meet (in Moodbidri, Karnataka) before this. I did 13.55 (to take the bronze) there. I could not get enough time to work out for this event, but I am happy,” said 18-year-old Aparna, a first-year student in college, told Sportstar .

Asked about her surname, Aparna smiled and said, “I am Roy because my father is Roy (Ovelil). Everybody asks me about my surname, but I am a pucca Malayali.”

Aparna, who looks up to former World and Olympic champion Sally Pearson of Australia, dreams of winning medals for the country.

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She reluctantly admitted that she represented the country in football before giving up the sport. “I played India under-14 two years in under-14 Asian Cup. One year, India came second (2014) and the next year the tournament was postponed in Nepal because of earthquake. We were there at that time.

“I began running when I was in Class I. From Class II, I also played football. It was difficult to do both, so I had to give up football in Class VIII.

“It’s my dream to win medals for India and compete in the Olympics,” said Aparna, who trains along with Asian championships silver medallist Anu Raghavan in Thiruvananthapuram.