Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Rio 2016 Olympics athletes: ‘Dil jeet ke aao’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi exuded confidence that the Indian contingent would put up a grand show at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.
“Dil Jeet Ke Aao”. These were Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous words to the Indian cricket team led by Sourav Ganguly that toured Pakistan in 2004. On Sunday, more than twelve years later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used these very words immortalised by Vajpayee in a slightly different context — to cheer India’s Rio-bound Olympic contingent.
Flagging off the “Run to Rio” event at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in the national capital, Modi exuded confidence that the Indian contingent would put up a grand show at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, which begins on August 5.
“Wherever our athletes go, India is visible not only on the ground but in their conduct as well. I am confident that these players will win hearts with their behaviour during the Games. They will introduce the great Indian heritage to the world,” Modi said. The Prime Minister used the stage to question why babus were being paid a higher daily allowance than the Indian team “that brings glory to the nation.”
“Earlier, the practice was that government officials accompanying the players used to get $100 per day, while players were being paid half of that amount. We have removed that disparity. Everybody will now get the same amount of money,” he added.
This is the first time in history that India will be sending an Olympic contingent that will have more than 100 players. The Prime Minister reckoned the reason was because of the special emphasis laid down by his government.
“We have spent Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore per player on the training. Earlier, the Olympic budget used to be around Rs 15 crore. However, understanding the gravity of the situation, we have exceeded the budget this time around to upto Rs 125 crore,” he explained.
Going forward, Modi urged the youth to focus on sports and work harder so that India can send more than 200-member contingent to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. “For the next Olympics in Tokyo, I appeal to the youth to prepare hard from now onwards. We must take a pledge to send more than 200 athletes to 2020 Olympics,” he stated. Modi was also excited at the prospect of the squad being sent in advance to the Olympics.
“Earlier, the practice was that our players used to reach the venue two days ahead of the Games and it was always a daunting task for them to get acclimatized. This time however, we are sending them 15 days in advance,” he noted. Later in the day, Modi, while addressing the nation in the 22nd edition of his popular radio programme Mann Ki Baat, said he was ready to don the mantle of a postman in sharing the good wishes of the countless citizens with India’s Rio-bound athletes.
“A sports ‘Mahakumbh’ is being organised. Every country will watch its players closely and we too will do the same. I am ready to send your messages to our players,” he added.
Dipa, Heena arrive
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, the women’s hockey team and shooter Heena Sidhu Sunday checked into the Olympic Village to further boost the Indian contingent at the Rio Games beginning on August 5. Checking into the Olympic Village, Dipa was gung-ho having secured her place into the Olympic Games in the same venue during the Test event for the Games.“I have happy memories so I am looking forward to the Games,” she said, as she was accompanied by her coach Bisweswar Nandi.
“It was a long journey but I am hoping to adjust within a day or two and will get down to the gym and training,”said Dipa. “I have already found out where the gym is, the swimming pool and various other facilities, so we have begun to settle in,” she added. Dipa and Nandi met Indian contingent Chef-de-Mission Rakesh Gupta, who has been meeting all the athletes arriving into the Village.
“Abhinav Bindra, Heena Sidhu, boxer Shiva Thapa and Dipa have all checked in the past couple of days, as have the women’s hockey team. The men’s hockey team arrived a day earlier, so we are nearing our full strength. The teething problems in the Village have been sorted out and it is improving each day. We still have six days to go for the start, and the athletes are beginning to feel comfortable,” said Gupta.
Heena, one of India’s leading hopes in shooting, arrived from Germany. She was accompanied by Ronak Pandit, her husband and coach and a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
She said she was looking forward to settling in and getting acclimatised. “It was a 12-hour flight from Germany and the first priority is to get rest and then get down to training,” she said. Men’s hockey coach Roelant Oltmans took his team through a session at the swimming pool and is soon planning to start the on-field training.
“It is important that we do all we can to make the boys feel comfortable and perform at their best,” said Oltmans.
Gupta said, “Initially, we faced some problems in transport, particularly the drivers who have language issues, and they don’t know the routes very well. The biggest issue we are facing now is the language problem. There will soon be more volunteers who are all from schools and colleges. The holidays start from August 1, so we should soon be fine.”
Regarding food served on the Indians, he said, “I have been regularly e-mailing the Organising Committee of the Games for the past one year, requesting them to provide Indian vegetarian food. I am very happy that they are offering fair amount of vegetarian food for us in every meal.
“Everyday, there is a dish of daal (lentils), vegetables and so on. For breakfast and dinner, there are at least two to three vegetarian dishes. For instance, we have aloo gobhi on Friday; Palak Paneer on Saturday.” The official Welcome Ceremony of the Indian team at the Village will be held on August 2 in the afternoon