Reveals his knowledge of their background, journey and achievements
It was the final blessing on behalf of the nation and a morale boost for the Olympics-bound Indian athletes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi goaded them to play without the pressure of winning and do their best wholeheartedly.
In an interaction that spanned more than an hour with 15 athletes and their family members, starting with World No. 1 archer Deepika Kumari and ending with tennis ace Sania Mirza, the Prime Minister revealed his knowledge of their background, journey and achievements.
The fluent manner in which he posed questions to each one of them in so many different ways, getting the best out of the athletes, would have made any professional sports presenter proud.
The Prime Minister started in Gujarati with rifle shooter Elavenil Valarivan and ended with a Tamil Vanakkam to her parents.
Deepika assured the PM she was focused on training and giving her best in Tokyo. Modi was impressed by archer Pravin Kumar Jakhar who had journeyed this far from a poor background.
Neeraj Chopra said he was determined to overcome the hurdles — injury and the pandemic — and do well at the Olympics.
Serving as an inspiration
Sprinter Dutee Chand spoke on inspiring girls and women to aspire for a better life.
Boxer Ashish Kumar said he was grateful to coach Dharmendra Singh Yadav for training andsupporting him at a crucial stage. The Prime Minister appreciated Ashish’s ability to stay focused on training even after the death of his father.
Boxer Mary Kom said, being a left-hander she preferred the hook to stun her opponents, that Muhammad Ali was her idol and Olympic gold her dream.
Modi talked to P.V. Sindhu about her training and recalled how coach Gopi Chand had kept her phone away and not allowed her to eat ice cream during the Rio Games.
“Sometimes I eat ice cream,” said Sindhu with a smile and the Prime Minister promised to have ice cream with her when she returned from Tokyo.
“You are very focused. You have a long journey. You will do very well,” the Prime Minister told shooter Saurabh Chaudhary.
It was equally entertaining and inspirational as Modi talked to table tennis stars Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, swimmer Sajan Prakash and hockey captain Manpreet Singh.
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, former Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Indian Olympic Association president, Narinder Batra were present among others who participated in the virtual interaction.