Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed the need for constantly improving techniques to develop the sports culture in the country. Interacting with the Indian para-athlete contingent for Tokyo-2020 Paralympic Games through video conferencing, Mr. Modi said, along with international sports, traditional Indian sports are also being given a new identity. Mr. Modi said, 360 Khelo India Centres have opened up in over 250 districts across the nation and these centers will be increased to one thousand in the near future. Terming the para-athletes as real champions, he added that new India does not pressurize its athletes for medals. It only wants them to give their 100 percent without any mental pressure. The Prime Minister said, it is the result of the hard work of para-athletes that today the largest number of Indian athletes are going to Paralympics. Mr. Modi said, there are so many youths who have the ability to bring so many medals and the country is trying to reach out to them with special attention to rural areas. Indian para-athletes are proof of how amazing talent is filled in small villages and far-flung areas. He said, earlier, providing facilities for the differently-abled was considered as welfare. But, today the country is working for that as a responsibility. Mr. Modi said that life is full of obstacles, but it is the indomitable spirit that makes people do something big in life.
Speaking on the occasion, Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur lauded the fighting spirit of para-athletes for showing brilliant performance at various international para-athletics games. He thanked the Prime Minister for extending support to athletes across the country.
During her interaction with the Prime Minister, Para Archer Jyoti Balyan, shared her inspiring story of how she overcame the depression of losing her father and now aspires to win the medal for the nation. Mr. Modi lauded her saying despite losing her father, she bounced back and worked hard. Para-archer Rakesh Kumar said that after his accident in 2010, he used to take the help of two to even sit up, but in 2017, his life changed when he met his coach who inspired him to join sports. Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia said there were many challenges in his life, but he never lost his spirit to do something for the nation. Para-Athlete Mariyappan Thangavelu explained his journey from becoming a gold-winning athlete to a coach. He said that the Mantra for young athletes is not to lose focus, train hard and never give up. Para-badminton player Palak Kohli said that her disability has now become her super ability, with all the support from the academy and her family. Para-badminton player Parul Parmar also talked about her experience. The Prime Minister lauded her saying she has worked hard on her fitness. Para- Powerlifter Sakina Khatun also shared her thoughts. Para-canoe Athlete Prachi Yadav shared that it is due to her father’s constant support that she has been able to realise her dreams. She further urged parents to support their daughters and give them wings to make the nation proud. Para-Shooter Singhraj said the government’s financial support and cooperation helped him build his own 50-meter international level shooting range.
Fifty-four para-athletes from across nine sports disciplines will be heading to Tokyo to represent the nation. This is India’s largest-ever contingent to the Paralympic Games.