Ahmedabad: Tokyo Olympics silver medallist weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu will be the biggest draw at the Mahatma Mandir Complex in Gandhinagar when the 36th National Games gathers steam on Friday, with events of nine more sports disciplines getting underway on the day.

Mirabai will spearhead Manipur’s campaign at the Games, while in the absence of fellow Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnuga of Mizoram, Bengal’s Achinta Sheuli will look to seize the advantage.

Besides Weightlifting, Friday will offer athletes in Archery, Athletics, Fencing, Gymnastics, Kho-Kho, Roller Sports, Rowing and Wrestling the opportunity to showcase their skills on the grandest stage in Indian sport.

The women’s 10m Air Rifle contest featuring home favourite, Olympian Elavenil Valarivan and West Bengal’s Mehuli Ghosh will also capture attention at the Ahmedabad Military and Rifle Training Centre here. On a day when three Shooting gold medals will be decided, 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Vijay Kumar’s comeback will also be watched with much interest.

In IIT Gandhinagar, the entry of Commonwealth Games medallist Sandeep Kumar headlines the 20km walk event. Not far from IIT, the Mahatma Mandir complex will spring alive with medals on offer in Weightlifting, Fencing and Wrestling while the picturesque Sabarmati Riverfront will have the best of India’s Rowing and Roller Sports athletes on view. And in the sylvan settings of the Sanskardham School, Archery and Kho-kho competitions will get underway.

The National Games caravan, which has already touched the cities of Surat and Bhavnagar besides Ahmedabad, will roll into Vadodara with the Gymnastics competition starting on Friday. The men’s and women’s team medals in Artistic Gymnastics will be the first to be decided in the five-day competition.

Pranati Nayak (West Bengal) and Protistha Samanta (Tripura) as well Satyajit Mondal (West Bengal) and Saif Tamboli (Services), who competed in the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham are among the gymnasts who will be eyeing some of the 27 gold medals on offer at the Sama Indoor Sports Complex. Among the rising stars Assam’s Samudra Das and Tripura’s Asmita Paul will also be hoping to make their presence felt.

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