By: RUSSELL FAZAL, Journalist
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Indian athletes’ contingent bound for Tokyo Olympics. The interaction by the Prime Minister was an endeavour inquiring about the athletes’ journey and delivering a message of encouragement to the contingent, which will leave in batches for Japan from July 17.
A total of 126 athletes across 18 sports disciplines from India will be heading for the Tokyo Olympics this year. This is the biggest-ever contingent India is sending to any Olympics. The 69 cumulative events across 18 sport disciplines that India will participate in are also the highest ever for the country.
There are several notable firsts in terms of participation this year. For the first time in its history, a Fencer from India, Bhavani Devi has qualified for the Olympic Games.
Nethra Kumanan is the first-ever female Sailor from India to qualify for an Olympic Games. Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj are the first Swimmers from India to qualify for an Olympic Games by achieving the ‘A’ Qualification Standard in Swimming.
Beginning his conversation with Deepika Kumari (Archery), who recently became world No 1 after winning gold at the Archery World Cup stage 3 in Paris, the Prime Minister congratulated the Ranchi Girl. He mentioned that her journey began with plucking mangoes through archery and enquired about her journey as a sportsperson.
Prime Minister also lauded Pravin Jadhav (Archery) for staying on the path despite difficult circumstances. He also interacted with his family and praised their efforts.
Mr. Modi lauded boxer Mary Kom for being a role model for many athletes. He also inquired how she was able to take care of her family and continue with her sport, especially during the pandemic. He asked about her favourite punch and her favourite player.
During his interaction, Prime Minister Modi noted common traits among the athletes i.e., Boldness, Confidence and Positivity. He said that all the athletes have common factors of “Discipline, Dedication, and Determination”.
“Both commitment and competitiveness in sportspersons are qualities are found in the New India. Athletes reflect New India and symbolize the nation’s future,” he said.
While speaking to shuttler P V Sindhu, the Prime Minister enquired about her practice in Gachibowli, Hyderabad. He also asked about the importance of diet in her training. The Prime Minister asked her parents for advice and tips they want to give to parents who want to make their children sportsperson.
Speaking to Tennis Ace, Saina Mirza, the Prime Minister talked about the increasing popularity of tennis and asked the senior player for her advice to the new aspirants. He also enquired about her equation with her partner in Tennis. He asked about the change she witnessed in sports during the last 5-6 years.
Sania Mirza stated that India is witnessing a self-belief in recent years and that will reflect in the performance of the athletes.
During the interaction, Prime Minister asked wrestler Vinesh Phogat how she copes up with high expectations due to her family legacy. He also talked to her father and asked how he groomed such illustrious daughters.
Talking to hockey player Manpreet Singh, Mr. Modi said, interacting with him reminded him of hockey legends like Major Dhyan Chand. He expressed the hope that his team will keep the legacy alive.
The Prime Minister said that he was optimistic that the day was not far, when victory will become New India’s habit. He advised players to give their best and asked the countrymen to “Cheer4India”
Prime Minister Modi had recently reviewed preparations for the facilitation of India’s contingent at Tokyo. He had also discussed the inspirational journeys of some of the athletes on “Mann Ki Baat”, besides urging the nation to come forward and wholeheartedly support them.
To keep the support coming for the athletes, Mr. Modi revealed that a new provision has been made on the NaMo app. He called the athletes, as the reflection of ‘New India’.