A total of over 1200 participants from across 28 states and Union Territories have descended for the prestigious 48th Junior National Aquatic Championships which will begin here on July 16 at the Biju Patnaik Swimming Pool Complex.
The five-day national championships at the iconic Kalinga Stadium, which is a hub for several top international sporting events, will see participants vie for top honours in swimming and water polo.
The 48th Junior National Aquatic Championships 2022 will serve as a selection trial for the next edition of the Khelo India Youth Games. The swimming Federation of India (SFI) will also identify swimmers for a long-term national programme aimed at preparing swimmers for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In the Junior category, Karnataka's Ridhima Virendrakumar, Nina Venkatesh, Sanvi Rao, Shoan Ganguly, Utkarsh S. Patil, Vidith Shankar, and Sambhav R. are billed to bring home top honours.
Maharashtra's Vedaant Madhavan, Ananya Joshi, Aryan Varnekar, Apeksha Fernandes, Kiara Bangera, Uthkarsh Gor, Palak Damini, Tamil Nadu's Vishesh Parmeshwar and Delhi's Bhavya Sachdeva too are expected to outperform in their respective events.
Expressing his gratitude to the Department of Sports Youth Services, Odisha State Government who extended their support in hosting this event, Swimming Federation of India's Secretary General Monal Chokshi said, "We are absolutely delighted that the National Championships is taking place in this fantastic facility within the Kalinga Stadium premise.
"This is a very prestigious national championship in the SFI calendar and we have happy to note that the sport has revived itself from the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic posed. In water polo, we will have eight men's teams and seven women's teams fight for the top three places. We will also be selecting players basis their performance to form a core group who will prepare for the Asian Games."
Speaking about the preparations to hold the prestigious domestic championships in a safe environment, Vineel Krishna, Director, Sports and Youth Services, Odisha and Officer on Special Duty to Chief Minister, said, "We are happy to welcome all the participants from across India to Bhubaneswar. The swimming Federation of India (SFI) expressed that they are looking for a host to conduct the National Championships this year, we immediately expressed interest as we are looking at developing swimming as one of the priority sports in the state. Through this Nationals, we hope that more kids in Odisha take up the sport competitively."