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Khelo India University Games

All of 4 feet and 6 inches, pole vaulter Mahi Patel brings audience to their feet

Mahi Patel, the shortest pole vaulter among the women, cleared 3.20m to finish in the fifth place in the Khelo India University Games on Saturday.

Mahi Patel (Source: KIUG)

Mahi Patel (Source: KIUG)


SS Manoj

Updated: 1 May 2022 10:02 AM GMT

All eyes were on Mahi Patel of the Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh when she picked up the pole to compete in the women's pole vault event on the opening night of the athletics events in the Khelo India University Games on Saturday. Her size was all that mattered for the next couple of hours.

The diminutive athlete, all of 4 feet 6 inches and weighing 40 kilos, carried the 15 feet pole with ease. When the 24-year-old and a final-year BA student cleared 3.20m to finish in the fifth place, the audience was up on their feet and applauds echoed all over the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Mahi has a personal best of 3.40m. Even a similar feat could not have fetched a medal on Saturday. Pavithra Venkatesh, who had set a new meet record of 4.01m started her vaults at 3.80m. She also tried to break the national record of 4.16m. Among the eight whose names were on the starting list, two did not compete.
"I'm better than some as I got a fifth place at least. That's definitely a creditable show. None can deny that," Mahi said jokingly. However, after watching the record gold medal show of Pavithra, Mahi was not all smiles.
"I have accepted the way life is. With this height I cannot go further, I know. But I can compete and nobody can prevent me from that," said the eldest daughter from a family of farmers. His father Ranjeet Singh, mother Sangeet Ravi cultivate rice and potatoes.
She took to the sport six years ago following the footsteps of her uncle and coach Parvinder Kumar Patel who was a national champion for five years in the early 2000s. Parvinder, who is now employed with Western Railway, trains her whenever he returns from work.
She has competed in several junior and school meets and has won one bronze medal during her debut at the 2016 Coimbatore National junior championship when she soared to 2.60m.
"I will continue to train and I have set my target at 3.70m," Mahi said and hope to sign off with a medal in the upcoming National Inter-State Athletics Championship in Chennai next month. "If I win a medal, I will get a job and that's my only wish from the sport which I love," she added before leaving to be tested.
There are others like Mahi who love to compete and one cannot ignore their everlasting spirit.

Akshdeep Singh clocks meet record

Under ideal conditions, Akshdeep Singh of Punjabi College, Patiala virtually walked to new games record gold medal in the men's 20km race walk event on the penultimate day of the athletics events in the second Khelo India University Games here on Sunday. He, however, missed the All-India Inter-University record by 55 seconds.
Akshdeep clocked 1 hour 26 minutes 44 seconds improving his own two-year-old games record of 1:29.51s at Bhubaneswar while his own All-India Inter-University record of 1:26.09s was set early this year at Mangaluru. In the process, he also achieved the World University Games entry standard of 1:28.00s in 20km race walk event.
Anshu Dhoundiyil of Kumaun University in Nainital with a time of 1:29.44s and Paramjeet Bisht representing Mangalore University, who posted 1:29.33s, also bettered the games record.
Both Akshdeep and Paramjeet are national campers for race walking and have trained with national coach Gurmeet Singh at SAI, Bengaluru centre for the past two years.
In anticipation of achieving the World University Games standard in China, Akshdeep has kept his passport ready. "I was confident of achieving the entry-level. So I applied for a passport early and got it recently," revealed Akshdeep who took lead as early as the fifth lap.
The entry standard for the Oregon World Championship is 1:21.00sand looks out of bounds as the deadline will be over soon.
"Of course, I have achieved the qualification for World University Games. But every athlete will be always eyeing the World Championship and the Olympics. I will try to improve and clock a better time at Chengdu Universiade. The 2024 Paris Olympic Games is my main target," said the son of Garchand Singh and Roopendra Kaur, who are farmers at their village in Barnala, Patiala.

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