New Delhi: Olympic Games Bronze medallist shooter Gagan Narang feels India should build on their best-ever performance at London and target to double the medal tally at Rio de Janerio four years later.
"We have been honoured and welcomed like heroes after our performance at the Olympics and I think now it’s time to build on whatever we achieved and double the medal tally in Rio Games," Gagan said on the sidelines of a felicitation program in New Delhi.
The medal winners at the London Games were awarded with cheques of Rs 15 lakhs for the silver medallists and Rs 10 lakhs for the bronze winners.
ONGC, the official sponsors of the Indian contingent, also awarded their London Olympians with a cheque of Rs 2 lakhs during the program, which was attended by dignitaries and sportspersons alike.
Vijay Kumar, who won a silver at London, was awarded with a cheque of Rs 15 lakhs and the Indian pistol shooter said he hoped to come up with better performance at Rio.
"It was my first Olympics and I came up with a silver. I hope I can keep doing the hard work and come up with better performances at the next events," he said.
M C Mary Kom, the only Indian woman boxer to win a medal at Olympics, advised the upcoming athletes to keep pursuing their dreams and take inspiration from her feat and continue their sports even after marriage.
"In our country, no one expects woman to continue with sports after marriage but I hope youngsters will get inspired from my performance and continue after marriage. I won a medal even after marriage and having two kids. I came back to the ring after my kids became one year old and I think it will inspire others as well," Mary Kom said.
Besides Mary Kom, Gagan and Vijay, silver medallist at the London Games Sushil Kumar was also present on the occassion. His friend and fellow wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who won the bronze in 60kg freestyle was down with food poisoning and could not attend the program.
Ace Indian shuttler queen Saina Nehwal, who became the first badminton player to win an Olympic medal at London, also skipped the event because of prior engagements.
Among others, shot putter Om Prakash Karhana and triple jumper Mayookha Johny, women`s doubles badminton player Ashwini Ponnappa, boxers Sumit Sangwan and Shiva Thapa, tennis player Vishnu Vardhan, shooter Shagun Choudhury and wrestler Amit Kumar were also present at the event.
Union minister for petroleum and natural gas, S Jaipal Reddy, who was the chief guest of the program, praised the athletes for bringing laurels to the nations and said India should focus more on sports from now onwards.
"We should focus more on sports from now. Our PSUs have supported. Although Oil companies are not in the pink of their health. The Loss to ONGC is so colossal that this donation won't constitute even a fraction of it. But it didn't stop their enthusiasm of supporting the sports persons," Reddy said.
"I want more and more private sector companies to do more. In future I would want to see the public and private coming together for the upliftment of sports in the country.
"The sports persons have done well after the Commonwealth Games and we did so well in London, we can hope we will do better at Rio and before that in the next CWG and Asian Games. We need to focus and plan properly," he added.