Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom highlighted how the sporting environment in India has evolved since the start of her career on the eve of the Khelo India Youth Games, set to begin in Guwahati on Friday.
“In my early days, I would struggle to buy even a pair of gloves,” the boxing star told the media at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. “It is heartening to see that Indian sports have come a long way.”
The third edition of the event will see more than 1,000 athletes being flown from Delhi and Kolkata after the Sports Authority of India tied up with an Indian airline to give the youngsters a new experience.
“It is encouraging to see these budding stars being given the experience of flying,” added Mary Kom, who also interacted with a few athletes before they boarded their flight to Guwahati.
The Khelo India Youth Games, earlier known as the Khelo India School Games, will be held over a fortnight from January 10 to January 22.
It is an annual event held for young athletes, mainly from the U-17 age category, from which the best are selected for a scholarship and are groomed for future sporting events.
“Khelo India has been incredible at unearthing young talents who can be groomed to bring laurels for the country,” said India sports minister Kiren Rijiju, who was also present at the event. “I hope this unique partnership (with the airline) will further strengthen our commitment towards giving the best possible facilities to our athletes.”
The first edition of the Khelo India Youth Games was held in 2018, with the latest mega-event to kick off on Friday that will see around 7,000 athletes participate across 20 disciplines.