PT Usha 'catches 'em young' to run for India

Mumbai, Feb 10 (IANS) Legendary Indian athlete P.T. Usha here Sunday selected six youngsters as India's "Speedstars", the country's fastest running sensations at a first-ever field talent hunt involving 76 finalists from 12 Indian cities.

A Chennai boy, M.S. Arun, who clocked 11.14 seconds in the 100-metre sprint topped the Under-16 category while Anita Das of Kolkata, clocking 12.79, topped the Under-16 girls.

In the Under-14 category, Pune girl Siddhi Hiray clocked 13.01 seconds and P. Silva of Hyderabad (boys) clocked 11.72 seconds.

New Delhi girl Shabnam Naik clocked 14.04 seconds in Under-12 while Mumbai boy Nilesh Batre clocked 13.31 seconds.

The event, organised by KOOH Sports under the aegis of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), saw the participation of over 10,000 children from 800 schools around the country in the past two months.

The six "Speedstars" will now go for a week-long intensive training in Australia, courtesy Griffith University, the official academy partner. They will be guided by Sharon Hannan, Olympic trainer and gather insights of professional the athletic circuit.

"The response generated by 'Speedstars' and initiatives like these would go a long way in cultivating next-generation athletes," said KOOH brand ambassador Usha.

The talent hunt was conducted across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Sonepat, providing a platform to deserving talent.

KOOH Sports, set up by a group of professionals in June 2010 to rekindle love for physical sports, is backed by TCS and HDFC, with the motive to improve the condition of sports in India.

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