Asmi Ankush Badade and Shreya Pravin Bhangale made it a 1-2 for Maharashtra but it was the self-taught girl from Assam who captured the hearts of the capacity crowd.
However, the tournament rules did play a role in her winning the bronze.
Maharashtra’s Maitreyi Amit Selukar and Nishka Chintamani had finished higher in the rankings than Upasha. But since the rules allow only two athletes from a state to win medals in a gymnastics event, the Assamese girl, who learnt her routines by watching videos online, was awarded the third place.
Speaking after the event, Upasha was ecstatic as expected. “It is an amazing feeling for me to win bronze in my home state. When I started preparing for Khelo India Games, I wasn’t thinking about how it would feel to perform in front of my home crowd. But when I stepped onto the mat, it felt amazing. The crowd was cheering for me, and I think it helped me in certain situations. I am just really happy with the way things have turned out.”
Upasha, who also claimed first position in free hand event in the 24th Sub-Junior and Junior Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championship in 2018 among many other accolades, moreover added, “I am also happy for my family and my friends who have been encouraging me to do better. Also since Khelo India Games were happening in Guwahati, a lot of people wished me well, and I am glad I could make them smile.”
Although some of the disciplines began on Thursday, Khelo India Games was officially inaugurated on Friday. The event will continue till January 22.