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Guwahati, January 22, 2020
With just one day left in the Khelo India Youth Games, tiny Daman and Diu broke into the medals table on Tuesday, claiming a silver medal in the boxing ring.
Harsh Bhagwan claimed that honour in the Boys Under-17 50-52kg category here on Tuesday, becoming the Union Territory’s first medal-winner in this edition of the Games.
The 17-year-old, perhaps, realized the enormity of his feat, breaking into a torrent of tears immediately after his silver was confirmed. It needed all his team-mates and two coaches, each equally elated, to console him.
“I started boxing at the behest of my parents, who were firm that I take up an individual sport,” he said. “They felt that it would make me more responsible, even not allow me hide from my failures,” he added.
His coach at the Daman & Diu Boxing Federation Academy in Daman, Vijay Pahal, was understandably disappointed at missing out on the gold but clearly looked proud.
“If someone wins, someone has to lose, too,” he said. “But I think he will learn from the loss. We will sit and analyse it,” Pahal said. “However, if a boxer puts his heart into his performance, gives it his all, I am not one to complain,” he declared.
“Well, at the last Khelo India Games I came, participated and left,” Harsh laughed. “This year I’ve come and got a silver. So next year….” he added, breaking into a smile.
Pahal, a former national-level boxer from Haryana, took up the job as their coach at the behest of Jitender Singh, the secretary of the federation and a friend.
“When I got there, I found that there was a lot of talent, but limited resources to work with,” he said.
Soon though, his wards garnered enough attention to warrant the state sports federation to invest in infrastructure to help groom them into finer boxers. And the results are there for all to see.
Young Harsh may be the first to get a medal from boxing for D&D but he may well not be the last. Two more of Pahal’s wards will be in action in the U21 on Wednesday, with Ronak -– the 81kg 2018 Youth National Champion – even fighting for the gold.