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From choorma and ice-cream to taking a promise from players: Here’s what PM Modi said to the Tokyo returned athletes

PM Narendra Modi interacted with the athletes who returned from Tokyo after participating in the Olympics on Sunday. A short video of the informal interaction was shared by PM Modi on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi from his official Twitter handle shared a 50-minute long video capturing the snippets of his meeting with the Tokyo Olympics 2020-returned athletes. From encouraging, inspiring the players to taking a promise from them, here’s what transpired at the special meet.

The informal interaction took place on Sunday, 15th August where he met all the athletes who had represented India at the Tokyo Olympics.

Athletes give PM Modi a memento

Players like Neeraj Chopra, Bhawani Devi, the men’s hockey team and others gifted Prime Minister Narendra Modi their sports equipment as a mark of respect and memento. The PM with the players’ permission decided to auction the gears to raise money and put it to good use. 

Laughter, tears and words of inspiration

Prime Minister Narendra Modi then personally interacted with each player, their coaches and checked on the health of the injured. 

Post offering javelin medalist Neeraj Chopra his favorite sweet choorma, PM Modi shared an anecdote of how one personal information became troublesome for former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “Once Atalji visited someone’s home. He came out and told the media that he loved the gulab jamun. After that was revealed in the media, everywhere he went he was served with just gulab jamun. So much so that a circular had to be released to offer something else as well.”

“The same thing might happen with you,” he teased Neeraj.

The Prime Minister was also in awe of the athlete’s confidence and enquired how he was so sure of his win after his second throw.

As promised, Prime Minister Modi also offered ice cream to badminton player PV Sindhu. Speaking with her coach Park Tae-Sang who hails from South Korea, Modi enquired if he had ever visited Ayodhya. The Prime Minister then invited Sindhu’s coach to visit Ayodhya and urged him to find out how the two places (Korea and Ayodhya) share a special connection. “You will feel very proud when you get to know,” exclaimed Modi to the Korean coach.

The Prime Minister then enquired about Ravi Kumar Dahiya’s injury who was bitten by his opponent amidst a match. Modi, on a lighter note also complained to Dahiya about not smiling at the podium despite winning a medal. “Haryanvi’s are such happy people. They find happiness in anything and everything. Why did you not smile at the podium?” exclaimed PM Modi.

Calling Bajrang Punia as Bajrangi, he enquired about his leg injury, capacity to endure the pain and what made him compete despite the injury. He also invited a disappointed Vinesh Phogat for a chat along with her family. 

“Vijay sar pe nahi chadni chahiye aur parajay mann me nahi baithni chahiye (Don’t let your victory cloud your head and don’t less your failure dishearten you),” advised PM Modi to the athletes. 

Talking to athletes who could not bag a medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020, the Prime Minister said that the new India will never pressurize the players for medals. “India is a country where even your hard work is respected and celebrated,” he said after the players shared their experiences of receiving a warm welcome from the country despite a loss. 

Modi congratulated Bhawani Devi for introducing a new sport (sabre fencing) to India and congratulated medalist Mirabai Chanu for honouring the truck drivers who played an important role in her win. 

Indian track and field athlete Dutee Chand, all excitedly informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi how very little encouragement and help did the sportsmen of the country receive prior to 2016. “But with the kind of support you give, we will surely win at least 20 medals (in Paris 2024),” she said thanking the Prime Minister for his unwavering support. 

Before concluding Modi urged the players to not let their win or loss affect their careers, performance or confidence. “It is a part of the sportsman life,” he said requesting them to keep inspiring the nation.

A promise

On the occasion of the 75th Independence year of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “While the country is waiting to give you something, I have come here to ask something from you.”

Elaborating on his demand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked every single player and athlete to visit at least 75 schools and colleges by 15th August 2023 and engage with the students on two fronts.

  1. Raise awareness about malnutrition and the importance of having a nutritious diet. “The children will take it seriously if it comes from sportspeople for whom diet is very important,” he remarked.
  2. He also urged the players to visit the schools and colleges and simply play with the kids for a few minutes. “An Olympic player playing with them will give a huge boost to their confidence,” said Prime Minister Modi in a bid to promote and encourage sports in India.

Concluding the speech, Narendra Modi requested the players to send written suggestions and letters to him recommending how the infrastructure and training in the country can be bettered. Considering the players now have the first-hand experience and their visit to different countries will help them provide informed suggestions which then can be implemented in the country to boost sports. 

 

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