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PM Modi blesses Olympics-bound Indian athletes on behalf of nation

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. 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 and supporting him at a crucial stage. The Prime Minister appreciated Ashish’s ability to stay focused on training even after the death of his father. “My father wanted me to be a boxer. I come from a family of sportspersons. My brother was a wrestler but I was of a lean frame. So, I decided that I couldn't be a wrestler and chose boxing," Ashish said. "You suffered from COVID. You lost your father as well. How did you cope and continue working hard?" the PM asked. Ashish replied, "I was emotionally hurt after my father died. My family supported me well through testing times. My friends motivated me that I should work towards fulfilling my father's dreams." "When I was in Spain, I had tested positive for COVID. But I was given special facilities. Despite those facilities I took a long time to recover. After returning to India, our sports staff helped me a lot. I got back into rhythm with their help,” he added. Modi reminded Ashish that Tendulkar "had also lost his father
during a tournament".

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. Turning to ace wrestler Vinesh Phogat, a bright medal prospect in Tokyo, Modi jokingly asked the grappler's father, "Kaunsi chakki ka atta kilate hain aap log apni beti ko (which flour do you people have)?" Modi also hailed the contribution of the Phogat family to Indian wrestling.

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.

Combining jocularity with sincerity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi engaged in a lighthearted interaction with India's Olympicbound athletes, donning the role of an interviewer to get insights into their journeys. When the situation demanded, Modi cited the example of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar in the 1999 World Cup to boxer Ashish Kumar, whose father died before the Olympic qualifier last year before he battled COVID-19 a few months ago. And when he realised that he could do with a bit of humour, the PM promised to have ice cream with
champion shuttler PV Sindhu.

A total of 120 Indian athletes across 18 sporting categories have so far qualified or been named in the final squad by their respective federations for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics slated to begin July 23. 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.

Below are the names of all Indians qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo, sorted by their sport, discipline and category:

Tarundeep Rai, Men’s Recurve
Atanu Das, Men’s Recurve
Pravin Jadhav, Men’s Recurve
Deepika Kumari, Women's Recurve
KT Irfan, Men's 20km race walking
Sandeep Kumar, Men's 20km race walking
Rahul Rohilla, Men's 20km race walking
Gurpreet Singh, Men's 50km race walking
Bhawna Jat, Women's 20km race walking
Priyanka Goswami, Women's 20km race walking
Avinash Sable, Men's 3000m steeplechase
Murali Sreeshankar, Men's long jump
MP Jabir, Men's 400m hurdles
Neeraj Chopra, Men's javelin throw
Shivpal Singh, Men's javelin throw
Annu Rani, Women's javelin throw
Tajinderpal Singh Toor, Men's shot put
Dutee Chand, Women's 100m and 200m
Kamalpreet Kaur, Women's discus throw
Seema Punia, Women's discus throw
4x400 Mixed Relay
Men's 4x400m Relay

PV Sindhu, Women’s singles
B Sai Praneeth, Men’s singles
Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag
Shetty, Men’s doubles

Indian boxing queen MC Mary Kom.
Indian boxing queen MC Mary Kom.
Vikas Krishan (Men's, 69kg)
Lovlina Borgohain (Women's, 69kg)
Ashish Kumar (Men's, 75kg)
Pooja Rani (Women's, 75kg)
Satish Kumar (Men's, 91kg)
Mary Kom (Women's, 51kg)
Amit Panghal (Men's, 52kg)
Manish Kaushik (Men's, 63kg)
Simranjit Kaur (Women's, 60kg)

Fouaad Mirza

Bhavani Devi

Anirban Lahiri
Udayan Mane
Aditi Ashok
Pranati Nayak

Men’s National Team
Women’s National Team

Sushila Devi Likmabam

Arjun Jat
Arvind Singh
Nethra Kumanan, Laser Radial
Vishnu Saravanan, Laser Standard
KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar, 49er

Anjum Moudgil, 10m Women’s Air Rifle
Apurvi Chandela, 10m Women’s Air Rifle
Divyansh Singh Panwar, 10m Men’s Air Rifle
Deepak Kumar, 10m Men’s Air Rifle
Tejaswini Sawant, 50m Women’s Rifle 3 Position
Sanjeev Rajput, 50m Men’s Rifle 3 Position
Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar, 50m
Men’s Rifle 3 Position
Manu Bhaker, 10m Women’s Air Pistol
Yashaswini Singh Deswal, 10m Women’s Air Pistol
Saurabh Chaudhary, 10m Men’s Air Pistol
Abhishek Verma, 10m Men’s Air Pistol
Rahi Sarnobat, 25m Women’s Pistol
Chinki Yadav, 25m Women’s Pistol (replaced by Elavenil Valarivan)
Angad Veer Singh Bajwa, Men’s Skeet
Mairaj Ahmad Khan, Men’s Skeet

Sajan Prakash, men's 200m butterfly
Srihari Nataraj, men's 100m backstroke
Maana Patel, women's 100m backstroke

Table Tennis
Sharath Kamal
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran
Sutirtha Mukherjee
Manika Batra

Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina,
Women's Doubles

Mirabai Chanu

Seema Bisla, Women's Freestyle, 50kg
Vinesh Phogat, Women’s Freestyle 53kg
Anshu Malik, Women's Freestyle 57kg
Sonam Malik, Women's Freestyle 62kg
Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Men’s Freestyle 57kg
Bajrang Punia, Men’s Freestyle 65kg
Deepak Punia, Men’s Freestyle 86 kg

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