Khelo India Youth Games: Srihari Nataraj not happy despite bagging seven golds

Srihari, who has already made an impact in the Youth Olympics and Asiad, bagged seven Youth Games gold medals.

Srihari Nataraj (in picture alongside his mother) continues with his bid to improve his timings, even as he tries to find a balance between swimming and his studies.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Srihari Nataraj likes to keep it short, be it in the pool, or in conversation. Yet, when it comes to winning gold medals, he does not hide a strong appetite.

For thousands of athletes who compete in the Khelo India Youth Games, winning a gold medal may be a passport to better government support. For Srihari, who has already made an impact in the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires and the Asian Games in Jakarta, seven gold
medals from the Youth Games does not make him feel as if he was in seventh heaven.

In contrast, he wears the medals gently on a special request, with his mother Kalyani doing all the work of unpacking the boxes and getting the medals out, even as they were in a rush to catch the flight out of Pune.

‘’I wanted to do 25 seconds here’’, said Srihari, who had punched the water in a bit of disappointment when he checked the time after his 50-metre backstroke on the last day of swimming competition.

Although he improved on his own best time of 26.19 with 26.16 for the 50 metres backstroke, the long wait between the races on the last day had perhaps robbed him of the energy and the intensity of focus.

Six gold medals from the last edition may not have changed his life much, and Srihari continues with his bid to improve his timings, even as he tries to find a balance between swimming and his studies.

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‘’I will prepare for the Board exams now, and then get ready to qualify and compete in the World Championship’’, said Srihari, who wound up the proceedings in the pool with the 100-metre freestyle gold.

Asked about his long term goal, Srihari does not hesitate to say, ‘’to win a medal in the 2024 Olympics’’.

That may sound far fetched at the moment, but Srihari will not spare anything in his capacity to live that dream.

Five individual golds and two relay golds from Srihari helped Karnataka top the medals table with 21 gold, 17 silver and 13 bronze.

Delhi followed with 19 gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze. Host Maharashtra was pushed to the third place with 18 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze, ahead of Tamil Nadu which had seven gold, 12 silver and six bronze.

Delhi won the under-17 team championship with 242 points, ahead of Karnataka (201) and Maharashtra (145). Host Maharashtra topped the under-21 section with 192 points, ahead of Karnataka (187) and Delhi (108).