PM Modi Interaction with Tokyo-bound Athletes Highlights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with some of India’s Tokyo-bound athletes, on Tuesday, July 13, three days before the first batch departs for the Japanese capital for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
He interacted with Deepika Kumari, Pravin Jadhav, Neeraj Chopra, Dutee Chand, Ashish Kumar, Mary Kom, PV Sindhu, Elavenil Valarivan, Saurabh Chaudhary, Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, Vinesh Phogat, Sajan Prakash, Manpreet Singh and Sania Mirza.
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 these disciplines that India will participate in, is also the highest ever for the country. The Tokyo Olympics is set to commence from July 23 and will run till August 8.
PM Modi: We set up a committee, athletes were helped with the TOPS scheme. The development from before is being felt by you all. You sweat for the country and the flag and for that, the country stands strong beside you. We tried our best to help the athletes train, we listened to them, which is why we could bring so much betterment in such less time. With Khelo India and Fit India, things got better and the result is the huge contingent going to the Olympics this time. A lot of sports are such in which India has qualified for the first time. You have been practicing to win and we don't doubt it all. I can see you all and say with conviction that winning will become new India's habit. When you will wave the flag in Tokyo, the world will see. Don't take pressure of winning, just tell yourself one thing that we will do our best. I will say it again 'cheer for India'. I am sure you will touch new heights. I thank you all and I wish you all the very best. I salute your families. Thank you very much.
PM Modi: I couldn't talk to everyone but all of your energies is being felt by the entire nation. All the athletes and families, we spoke virtually today but I would have loved to have hosted you all in Delhi, due to corona, we couldn't do that. A lot of athletes are training abroad. Once you are back, I promise to meet you all in person. Corona changed a lot - Olympic year, your way of preparation. In Tokyo, the environment will be different. The nation got to know today how much you have worked hard for the country even in these tough times. I asked the country to cheer for you all and it makes me happy that the country is cheering for you. I have seen a lot of images on #CheerforIndia, the whole nation is cheering for you. Everyone is going to pray for you. I wish you all the very best. On NaMo app, there is a new provision, where people are cheering fro you and sending you messages. I see you all together and I see some things common - confidence, positivity, discipline, dedication and commitment. You are a reflection of new India. You come from all of India, some started in field, some in academies but all of you are part of Team India. You are going to represent the country, and this spirit is the image of India. You play with all your spirit, work more on your technique.
PM Modi: Sania, you have won Grand Slams. What does it take to be a tennis champion?
Sania Mirza, tennis: Tennis is a global sport. When I started 25 years ago, there weren't too many people who used to play the sport but it's not the case now. You require a lot of hard work and talent to make it big. The infrastructure has got better now and we hope to have more tennis players.
Modi: How is your and Ankita Raina's preparation going on?
Sania: Ankita is a rising youngster and I am looking forward to playing with her. We did well in Fed Cup. I am going for the 4th Olympics, it is her first, her young legs can be of help.
Modi: How much improvement do you see in tennis in the last 5-6 years?
Sania: Since the CWG, the belief that athletes apart from cricketers can do well has increased. From last Olympics to this Olympics, I see a lot of betterment.
PM Modi: Your whole team, you stayed during Covid in Bengaluru. How did that help your team spirit.
Manpreet Singh, Indian men's hockey team captain: The government helped a lot but we got to know each other more, we got to know each other backgrounds and our bonding got strong. We thought we had another year and how we could improve ourselves and studied our opponents.
Modi: Hockey has a great history in Olympics. Does that put more pressure?
Manpreet: We don't take pressure but are proud we play a sport that has got eight gold medals.
Modi: I remember the greats of hockey by talking to you. We believe you will take the name of all of them and the sport higher.
PM Modi: I am told your mother was in athletics. What did you learn from her?
Sajan Prakash, swimming: My mother is my everything and she has taught me everything I know.
Modi: I am told you got injured. How did you overcome all that?
Sajan: There was a long gamp when we couldn't get into the pool but with support from my friends and family, I could overcome these challenges.
PM Modi: You are from Phogat family. So much you all have done for the nation. Is that an extra pressure.
Vinesh Phogat, wrestler: There is pressure and expectation but I feel that is important and we push more due to expectation. There is no pressure, I will do well and hope to win a medal.
Modi: You got injured in Rio, you got sick last year. How have you turned it all into success.
Vinesh: It is tough but as a top-level athlete, you have to be mentally strong. The family plays an important role but also the federation and SAI, and you don't want to disappoint them. We can't stop, this is how I think.
Modi: Can we expect a film on you too?
Vinesh: We hope to do well in the Olympics and for all the country's expectation, we don't want to disappoint.
Modi: I want to talk to your father. What 'chakki ka aata' does Phogat family feed their girls?
Mahavir Singh Phogat, Vinesh's uncle: We eat what grows on our grounds. Vinesh got injured in Rio but I am sure this time in Olympics, she will win a medal. She will fulfill my dreams.
PM Modi: I am told you help underpriviledged kids play TT. How did you get the thought.
Manika Batra, table tennis: I saw a lot of underpriviledged kids play well and I felt if I help them, they can do well too. They motivate me a lot as well.
Modi: I have seen you paint your nails with the flag. Why do you do that?
Manika: I am a girl I like nailpaints but I want to keep the Indian flag close and seeing the flag inspires me.
Modi: You like dancing too, is it a stress buster?
Manika: Yes dancing is my stress buster. When I am in a tournament, so I dance during my free time. I feel nice and get confidence.
Modi: You are an international superstar. You are an inspiration for all. I wish you and your closed ones all the best and thank you.
PM Modi: You have made it to 3 Olympics. What will you say to the first-timers.
Sharath Kamal, table tennis: This time's Olympics are different because of Covid-19. Previously it was never before that our focus was on safety apart from sports. I would say sports and Olympics are important but if we don't maintain protocols, we can be out. Once we go to the Olympics, our focus should be solely on sports.
Modi: Have you seen development in TT from the govt?
Sharath: There has been a lot of improvement. We won gold in 2018 CWG, Manika also created history. Earlier there wasn't much professionalism, now it is. Earlier studies were the main thing and sports was on the side but now the govt puts focus on sports and rears professionals. This is how more and more kids come into sports. Now the mindset is that kids can make life in sports.
Modi: You have a lot of experience and you will have to handle the team too. I am sure you will do well and your team too.
PM Modi: You have qualified for Olympics in such a young age. How has your journey been like.
Saurabh Chaudhary, shooting: I started at the age of 15 near my village. My parents supported me. I tried and got results and Indian government helped and here is where I am.
Modi: You need mental stability in shooting. How do you get that?
Saurabh: I do meditation and yoga in the morning. We want to know from your how do you stay calm when handling the country.
Modi: How do you feel when your friends come to get selfies?
Saurabh: It feels great when I come home and friends come for selfies.
PM Modi: You wanted to go in athletics first but why did you choose shooting.
Elavenil Valarivan, shooting: I tried a lot of sports but I chose shooting because it was exciting and you have to control your emotions and be calm and I had that.
Modi: What has been your journey from school to Olympics?
Valarivan: I started shooting in my 10th standard and my parents supported me. Gujarat Sports Ministry sanctioned my shooting and gave me education too. And now I am going for my first Olympics and it feels great.
Modi: How do you balance shooting and studies?
Valarivan: I want to thank my college because they give me so much freedom and let me take exams and classes separately. They have supported me a lot.
Modi: Your generation is motivated and calm. We hope you will continue with it in the Olympics.
PM Modi: How is your practice going on?
PV Sindhu, badminton: I chose to practice in Gachibowli because the Olympic stadium is big and I thought if I have the opportunity then why not. I took the permission from the govt, they asked me to follow the protocols but I am very thankful that I got the permission quickly. Because of that it won't take me time to get used to Olympic stadium.
Modi: Gopichand took your phone and ice cream before the last Olympics. Is it the same this time?
Sindhu: I do control my diet before the Olympics so I don't have a lot of ice cream, only occassionally.
Modi: I want to talk to your parents. When a kid wants to play sports, people hesitate, what do you want to say to them?
PV Ramana: I want to say that if kids stay healthy all will be good and sports help in that.
Modi: How do you parents a sportsperson?
PV Ramana: You have to motivate the kids. The government is giving everything so we just teach them to give respect and work very hard.
Modi: I am sure you will do great this time in the Olympics too and then I will have ice cream with you.
PM Modi: Mary Kom, you are an athlete who take inspiration from you. Even in the Olympic contingent, you have people who look up to you. What do your kids ask you when you are away?
Mary Kom, boxing: My kids miss me but I tell them that your mom is fighting for the company. I tell them to listen to their father, stay at home due to Covid even though they get bored. They love to play but because of Covid, they can't do that and are away from my friends. I told them to fight this and stay safe. I told them I am also going to fight for the nation. I will try to do my best for the country, that's what I said.
Modi: You are a champion everywhere but what is your favourite platform?
Mary Kom: My favourite platform is my southpaw.
Modi: Who is your favourite athlete?
Mary Kom: Mohammad Ali is my inspiration in boxing.
PM Modi: Your family has had athletes, why did you choose boxing.
Ashish Kumar, boxing: My home had a sports environment and my father wanted me to do boxing. My brother was a boxer. I had option for wrestling too. I was thin so I chose boxing.
Modi: You fought Covid too. How did you make sure to stay on track and keep on track. You even lost your father.
Ashish: My father died 25 days before the competition and I was distraught but my family supported me and my friends motivated me too that I should fulfill my father's dreams. When I was in Spain, I got Covid-positive and I had symptoms. I got special facility there and I was in contact with the team doctor. I was given a special practice area but it still took me a lot of time to recover. When I returned to the camp, coaching staff helped me a lot in recovery and to get me back to rhythm.
Modi: Sachin Tendulkar's father passed away before an important game but he continued. You did the same for the sport and the country, you are an example. You are a winner in sport and as a person too. The country expects a lot of you and we are sure you will do well in the Olympics. We wish you the best.
PM Modi: You are ready to shine in the Olympics. How do you see that?
Dutee Chand, athletics: My mom was criticised was having girls and I always had it in my heart that if I do well, I can get a good job and change the situation at home. I want to thank all those who have supported me always. My life has always had controversies, I always challenge and came here. I am going to the Olympics for the second time and I wouldn't be scared. Indians are not weak. I will work hard and try to win a medal.
Modi: Your efforts' results come in seconds. How difficult is that.
Dutee: In 100m, it gets over in 10 seconds but it requires a lot of hard work. It has to be taken as a challenge. We keep everything in mind to run and we are nervous but we stay strong and run.
Modi: We are sure you will make the podium. Dont be scared and give your best, India is with you.
PM Modi: You are in Indian Army. What is the training that helped you reach here.
Neeraj Chopra, javelin throw: I was always attracted to the army. I played for 5-6 years and I was asked to join the army. Since then, I have been training and the Army provides me with everything.
Modi: You had injury but you pulled through. How?
Neeraj: Injuries are parts and parcel of the sport. I worked hard and lost a year but I focussed on the Olympics and then I participated in the first tournament and qualified. Then coronavirus happened but now I am working very hard to do as well as possible in the Olympics.
Modi: You don't have to take the burden of expectations. Just give your 100 per cent. I wish you the best.
PM Modi: You started in athletics but then you are going for archery to the Olympics. How did that happen.
Pravin Jadhav, archery: I started for athletics but my body was weak and I was told I could do well in other sport. I was given archery and I worked with that.
Modi: How did you bring perfection to your game.
Jadhav: My financial situation at home is not good and I knew I would have to do labour at home and this was just a good window.
Modi: You never gave up amid your struggles. How did you make it through.
Jadhav: I always used to think I have struggled but it will all be waste if I don't continue.
Modi: Jadhav ji, you are a champion but so are your parents. You did labour and raised your son and now he is going to the Olympics. You showed how much hard work and honesty matters. What do you have to say?
Modi: Pravin has showed that if grassroots are strong, our athletes can do anything. Be strong in Japan.
Deepika Kumari: "I have had a beautiful journey even though it has had its struggles. I loved mango and that is how the story started but I have been lucky to have good coaches. We expect the most from ourselves and I am focussing on that."
PM Modi: "Congratulations that you never gave up and fought through everything. I can see your family and want to thank them. I wish you the luck for Tokyo Olympics and I am sure you'll do great there."
"In my previous Mann Ki Baat, I spoke about you and other archers. You are world No.1 in ranking and your medals in Paris was brilliant. I have got to know that in your childhood you used to aim to get mango, the journey has been long and the world wants to know of it" - PM Modi to archer Deepika Kumari.
Narinder Batra thanks everyone who have supported the athletes for the Olympics on behalf of IOA. He salutes all the athletes for their sportsman spirit and fighting through the Covid-19 pandemic. "I want to thank PM Modi for his motivation for the athletes. They will feel the cheer and strength of everyone from home. Jai Hind."
Recently-appointed Minister of Sports and Youth Affair Anurag Thakur is praising PM Modi for his efforts towards sports and all the campaigns for the Tokyo Olympics.
To the athletes: "As you are on the road to Tokyo, PM has come to motivate you. I have only one message - when you go to Tokyo, all you have to think is you have to win medals for the country."
The likes of PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Bajrang Punia, Manpreet Singh-led Indian men’s hockey team and many others will be in the spotlight at the event.
Before their departure, PM Modi will interact with the athletes via a video conference today evening, scheduled at 5 pm, IST. The motive behind this talk is to encourage the players and motivate them ahead of their participation at the high-pressure Games.
In his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on All India Radio last month, the Prime Minister had stated that all Indian athletes heading to the Tokyo Olympics have worked hard for a long time and urged the nation to come forward and support them. Sharing their struggles and triumphs, the Prime Minister said that our sportspersons can be seen as inspirations.
“He had recently reviewed the preparations for facilitation of India’s contingent at Tokyo-2020. 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,” the PMO stated.
Indian Olympic Association had recently announced that 6-time world champion boxer M C Mary Kom and men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh will be India’s flag bearers at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. IOA also revealed that wrestler Bajrang Punia will be the flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Games on August 8.
India’s hopes will be clung onto the likes of PV Sindhu, Mary Kom, Bajrang Punia for medals along with the shooting contingent and the hockey teams as they hope to break the overall medals tally this time around.