Arundhati Pantawane (badminton)

She loves to watch powerpuff cartoons. Her game, too, is more about displacing opponents through power-filled smashes. The 21-year-old Nagpur lass, who jumped from near-obscurity to stardom, by reaching the National badminton championship finals last year, did her growing reputation a big favour by winning the 34th Jharkhand National Games gold in Ranchi. The India No.2 wants to remain injury-free and regain the No.1 spot which she held for a brief while early this year. “Reaching the top is easy but remaining there is very difficult. I'll try my best,” said the trainee of Gopi Chand Academy in Hyderabad.

J. Surendhar (athletics)

The moment he finished the 110m hurdles in his personal best time (14.46s) to bag the gold in the National Games, the 19-year-old was keen to rush back to the dressing room. Only after much coaxing did the Chennai lad agree for the mandatory Doordarshan interview. On track, it was a confident race from start to finish. “I am thrilled as this is my first gold at the Senior National level,” said Surendhar, coached by M.V. Rajasekhar of Universal Sports Foundation.

Deepika Kumari (archery)

It is rare indeed to see a World champion in India and at the age of 15 at that. One such rare talent is archer Deepika Kumari from Ranchi, Jharkhand. Since winning the title in 2009 at the 11th Youth World archery championship at Ogden (U.S.A.), Deepika, now 16, has hit the headlines on more than one occasion recently. Born in a very humble family (her father is an auto-rickshaw driver and her mother a nurse), Deepika finished with the silver in the individual and won gold in the team competition at the National Games. “Archery has given me everything: money, fame and recognition,” says Deepika. “I want youngsters, particularly girls; take to sports in a big way. Sport can be a good career option these days,” says the petite girl; whose aim is to win an Olympic medal for India.

Ratnika Batra (tennis)

Ratnika Batra came to the 34th National Games tennis competition as an unseeded player but ended up winning the ladies' singles crown. The Delhi player, all of 16, also won the team gold medal and a silver in the women's doubles. “It's not so surprising,” she says. “I play more on the ITF circuit. That is why I have a low ranking in India.” When she was 13, she won the under 14 and under-16 girls' titles in India. Next year she emerged the youngest Indian girl to win the women's singles at 14. And now she has added the National Games women's crown to the growing list of trophies. Ratnika is the one to watch out for in the future.

Keywords: National Games