Khelo India University Games mascots. Image credit: KIIT

The first-ever Khelo India University Games (KIUG) will take off in Odhisha with a mega launch event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium, Cuttack on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the multi-disciplinary sporting event through a video conference and it will be attended by several dignitaries and sportspersons.

Around 3400 athletes from 159 universities across the country will battle it out in 17 disciplines, including rugby which is among the six-team events.

Athletes are looking at the Khelo India University Games to make a mark not only for their institutions and themselves but also to catch the eye of talent scouts.

KIUG, in the future, would become an important rung in the ladder that the country’s student-athletes seek to climb.

The attempt is to make the Khelo India University Games an aspirational competition for the youngsters of the country.

The primary objectives of the event are to help them find the balance between sport and education.

Ace sprinter Dutee Chand, who is a student of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT)- the host university- is excited to be part of the event.

“I may make the grade on the strength of my world ranking. But I really want to make it to the Olympic Games by achieving the qualification standard,” she said.

“To improve my ranking, I will need to compete in some quality events and, for some reason or the other, that has not happened,” she added.

Other athletes taking part in the event include Mangalore University’s triple jumper Jay Shah, his team-mate long-distance runner Narendra Pratap Singh, Pune University’s long-distance runner Komal Jagadale and Acharya Nagarjuna University’s sprinter Yarraji Jyothi.

India’s some of the best young archers like Komolika Bari, Sangampreet Bisla, Muskan Kirar and Sakshi Tote are slated to be in action in the event.

“There are not too many competitions for us and hence we will see the very best vie for honours,” said a Delhi University archer.

With 191 and 183 athletes respectively, from Panjab University (Chandigarh) and Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar) will have the largest contingents.

There will be a total of 17 sporting events, which are- archery, athletics, boxing, fencing, judo, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, badminton, basketball, football, hockey, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, rugby and kabaddi.

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