A whopping 3,298 athletes, including World Junior Champion shooter Anish Bhanwala and World Youth Weightlifting Championship silver medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga will take part in the inaugural Khelo India School Games (KISG), beginning from January 31.
The Khelo India School Games Organising Committee has received as many as 3,298 nominations till now, a release said.
Eventually, as many as 4,452 athletes and officials from 36 states and Union Territories are expected to feature in 16 disciplines in which competitions will be held.
Bhanwala, 15, won the gold in the 25m standard pistol competition in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Championship in Germany, in July last year.
While 15-year-old Jeremy Lalrinnunga from Mizoram, who trains at the Army Boys Sports Company in Pune, won silver in the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) World Junior Championships in Bangkok last April.
Andhra Pradesh recurve archer Bommadevara Dhiraj, fresh from winning five gold medals in the School Games Federation of India (SGFI) national competition immediately after claiming silver in the Asian Continental qualifying competition for the Youth Olympic Games, will be another high-profile competitor at the games.
Archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, gymnastics, judo, shooting, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling are the 10 disciplines featuring individual competitors while basketball, football, hockey, kabaddi, kho-kho and volleyball are the six team sports that are part of the inaugural Khelo India School Games.
The most confirmations have been received from Delhi (341) and Maharashtra (321). Haryana, which will end up with the most entries in the games with 350, is in the process of finalising its nominations.
There is a total of 197 gold medals up for grabs.
Athletics will have the largest participation, with 640 boys and girls vying for 36 gold medals. Swimming will feature 592 competitors seeking to claim the 35 gold medals that are up for grabs.
Wrestling (30 gold medals) takes the third spot with 480 grapplers, while boxing (26 gold medals) is the other sport in which more than 400 participants are expected to vie for honours.
Gymnastics, whose popularity is on the rise in the wake of Dipa Karmakar’s spectacular showing in the Commonwealth Games 2014 and Olympic Games 2016, will have 84 competitors.