37th National Games: Goa gets its first gold medal
Two-and-half months back when 22-year-old Babu Gaonkar from Netravali-Sanguem started practising for the 37th National Games, he knew he would do well, but a gold medal came in as a proud moment to his family, friends and coach.
Gaonkar's medal is Goa's first gold in a discipline so far unheard of in this part of the world. The modern pentathlon is an Olympic sport consisting of fencing, swimming, riding, shooting and running.
Gaonkar was up against some tough contestants in an event called biathlon (derived from modern pentathlon) in which particpants had to do a run of 600 metres and then shoot (10 metres distance).
Though running is Babu's strength, he was not very confident about laser shooting, but nonetheless, it was his day and the end reward was gold for all the hard work under his coach, Nilesh Naik, who is also the nodal officer for modern pentathlon for Goa.
With no prior experience, Babu participated in this event for the first time and that makes the gold medal all the more laudable. He is thankful to the Goa Modern Pentathlon Association for providing him the laser gun for practise.
Soon after his victory, the Sports Minister Govind Gaude congratulated him and after that, his phone never stopped ringing.
Sports runs in Babu's blood and he has participated in around 23 marathons and mini marathons and won most of these. A graduate from Quepem Government College, the youth is a former gold medalist in the 1500 m race at the inter-collegiate level.
Babu's parents have always been supportive of his sporting endeavours and he credits them for his victory. His father, Arjun Gaonkar, is a tractor mechanic and runs his own garage. His mother, Aparna, is a housewife and sister Arpita is studying. The family is also into horticulture farming.