Mumbai, 27 April 2022: Mumbai is often described as the City of Dreams because of its association with Bollywood and the glamour that comes along with it. In terms of sport, cricket has been linked with the city as well because of legends such as Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.
But at the Khelo India University Games 2021, now on in Bengaluru, it is the Mallakhamb athletes of the University of Mumbai and Savitribai Phule Pune University who have stolen the show winning Gold and Silver Medals respectively in both the men’s and women’s category.
On Day 4 University of Mumbai won the Women’s Team Championship with an overall score of 86.45 while University of Pune finished second with 82.95 score. The bronze medal went to Vikram University, Ujjain
In the Men’s category University of Mumbai bagged the gold winning the team championship, while the Silver went to the Savitribai Phule Pune University. Bundelkhand University, Jhansi won the Bronze.
Earlier, international champion athlete Deepak Shinde of University of Mumbai stole the show in the Boys All-Around Individual Championship Mallakhamb event and scored a total of 27.30 with scores of 9.6 in Pole, 8.7 in Rope, and 9 in Hanging, emerging as the top player.
The 25-year-old M.Com student, after his stellar performance, said, “Khelo India has been the biggest platform for Mallakhamb athtletes and he thanked the government for including it in the competition category. Deepak, who hails from a humble family, was inspired by his brother to pursue the sport. Now, both brothers are running a coaching and fitness center where they provide training to up-and-coming athletes. He further said, with Government backing, Mallakhamb is becoming popular day by day. In Mumbai alone, there are 30-40 Mallakhamb clubs, while their number was 5-6 some years ago, he added.
Mallakhamb has an intrinsic association with Maharashtra. It was Balambhatta Dada Deodhar, the fitness and sports instructor of Peshwa Bajirao II, who revived the art form in the 1800s as a training method for the Peshwa’s army. Needless to say, some of the best Mallakhamb athletes have emerged from Maharashtra.
This physical fitness focused indigenous sport is also gaining international recognition. In 2019, the first ever Mallakhamb World Championship was held in Mumbai, with 17 nations participating in the sport. There were athletes not just from Asian countries but also from European nations at the World Championships, indicating that the sport is spreading across the world.