Ajay Mandhra, a boy from Odisha's Malakangiri, a region notorious for its Naxal activities, recently bagged a gold medal for India in the first international Kho Kho tournament, which took place in the United Kingdom from September 1 to 4.
Ajay was also a part of the Indian side that defeated hosts England in the finals of the tournament. Besides Ajay, Samiti Nathasharma also won the gold medal in the same tournament and was also a part of the women's team.
'It's indeed a fantastic feeling that we went there, won gold and came back as champions. It's indeed a great feeling," a jubilant Ajay told ANI.
Ajay, who hails from the Bonda tribal community --considered to be one of the most primitive tribes in the country, has thanked his parents who work as daily wage labourers for their continuous support and encouragement.
"Apart from all the hard work I put is, it is family members who provided me with every kind of support I need and they are very happy too. I want more youngsters from our tribe to make the nation proud," Ajay added.
Speaking on Ajay's sensational feat, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Member of Parliament and founder of Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) Achyuta Samanta said, "There are a lot of talents especially in Odisha, particularly among the tribal boys and girls in the state. These children need to be trained and nurtured well. We are doing the same in giving these youngsters a platform through KISS which provides free education to the tribal children. We have always treated sports with utmost importance."
Ajay's coach Kalandi Charan Rout, meanwhile, told ANI that they are looking forward to providing the teen with all the special training required to make him ready for the upcoming Kho Kho World Championships.
"Ajay is immensely talented. We will provide him with every kind of special training to make him ready for the upcoming Kho Kho World Championships. Kho Kho is a traditional game in this country, we have to unearth more such talents so that they can make the country proud just like Ajay. We will leave no stone unturned," he said