Assam swimmer Shivangi Sharma

Assam swimmer Shivangi Sharma, who was part of the quartet that created a national record in women’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the Hangzhou Asian Games, expressed her delight about the prospects of her home state gearing up to host the forthcoming Khelo India University Games 2023, as a major sporting event returns to the Northeastern state after a four-year wait.

Shivangi, who sizzled in the pool four years ago when Assam hosted the third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games, winning five medals, expressed her confidence in the state’s preparedness for the KIUG as she awaits to hear ‘nice things’ about her state.

“I’m extremely happy that Assam is hosting the Khelo India University Games. When I participated at the KIYG, I saw how our state government made a wholehearted effort in arranging the event, and everyone loved it,” she narrated.

“The arrangements were superb, everyone had said that the people were nice, the management was superb. So I am looking forward to the KIUG, as it always feels nice to hear good things about your state. It’s been a long four-year wait, Khelo India is back in Assam,” said Shivangi.

The youngster, who is currently training in New Delhi, spoke highly about the infrastructure back in her state, while also citing the improved facilities at the Dr Zakir Hussain Aquatics Complex, at the Sarusajai Sports Complex – the venue for the swimming events at the upcoming KIUG.

“If I start talking about sports in general in Assam, it wasn’t that great earlier but after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched so many schemes like Khelo India, and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), the focus has shifted to sports in Assam like other parts of the country. During KIYG, there were a lot of changes that the government invested in,” she said.

“I never trained in Sarusajai but I saw that the entire pool there is so well maintained. In January, it’s normally super cold in Guwahati, and they turn on the heater so that the swimmers can train in warm water. It’s comfortable for the swimmers. The only thing Assam needs is more trained coaches as there is no dearth of talent in the state. But overall, Assam has all the facilities and the infrastructure to host multi-discipline events,” she counted.

The ace swimmer felt that hosting the prestigious KIUG in the state would be a great learning experience for the budding athletes, as they will witness more than 4,500 athletes from over 200 universities in action.

“People will be more aware, as they will be watching the seniors and top university level athletes (in her case swimmers) competing. It will be a nice experience for the budding athletes to learn from the seniors, and work harder towards their goals of achieving sporting excellence,” she said.

Reflecting on her experience at the Hangzhou Asian Games, Shivangi said, “After participating in the KIYG 2020, I made up my mind that I needed to get into the Asian Games squad, no matter what. I had to keep my promise made to the people of my state. And finally, when it came true, it made me believe in myself more and I was extremely happy. But this is the first milestone that I have hit, and actually proud of myself.”

“It was an amazing experience for me, it was a dream come true meet for me, so more than the result, I was looking forward to the experience of competing against the world’s best swimmers in Hangzhou,” she added.

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