Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (July 13) interacted with the Olympic-bound contingent who would be looking to make the country proud at the upcoming Tokyo Games, beginning July 23. “During my last Mann ki Baat, I talked about you (Deepika Kumari) and the other athletes. You are now the world number one in rankings, the world would love to know about your journey, I know in your childhood, you used to aim at mangoes,” said PM Modi during the session.
“When you reach such a level at the big stage, expectations are obviously there from you. The country is confident that you will make the nation proud at the upcoming Games,” he added.
Talking to javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, PM Modi said: “I have been told that you got injured, but still you created a new record. You don’t need to get bogged down by expectations, don’t take the burden of expectations, just focus on your goal.”
Replying to PM Modi, Neeraj said: “I am focusing on my game, anything I want, the government is helping me in that. We have a limited career, because of injury, I lost some time but I was fully focused on the Olympics. Because of COVID-19, Olympics got postponed but I kept on preparing for the event.”
PM Modi also said that sprinter Dutee Chand is all set to make everyone proud at the Olympics. “Dutee Ji, the result of your hard work that you have done for so many years, is decided by few seconds,” said Modi.
The virtual video conferencing session was started by Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anurag Thakur wherein he introduced PM Modi and he thanked him for taking out the time to boost the morale of the athletes. MoS Nisith Pramanik and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju were also present along with Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra.
Athletes such as Mary Kom (boxer), Sania Mirza (tennis), Manika Batra (table tennis), Dutee Chand (sprinter), Deepika Kumari (archery) and Sajan Prakash (swimmer) were all part of the session. “It is an honour and privilege for every member of the contingent to get to speak to the Prime Minister before they depart for the Olympics. Our athletes will compete in 85 events in which they can win a medal,” said Batra during the session.
A total of 126 athletes across 18 sports disciplines from India will be heading to Tokyo. This is the biggest-ever contingent India is sending to any Olympics. The 69 cumulative events across the 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. 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 Olympics. 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.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has already confirmed that boxer Mary Kom and men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh would be the flagbearers for the Indian contingent at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in the opening ceremony.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia will be the flagbearer at the closing ceremony. The Indian contingent would depart for Tokyo on July 17. Olympics will run from July 23 to August 8.