New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the achievement of para-athletes has inspired 140 crore Indians.
“Your success inspires the entire nation and also instills a feeling of pride among the citizens”, Modi said, noting the record-breaking success in terms of the total medal count of 111.
He was interacting with India’s Asian Para Games contingent at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, in New Delhi today. The program is an endeavor by the Prime Minister to congratulate the athletes for their outstanding achievement at the Asian Para Games 2022 and to motivate them for future competitions.
Addressing the para-athletes, the Prime Minister said that he always looks forward to meeting them and sharing their experiences. “You bring along new hopes and renewed enthusiasm whenever you come here”, the Prime Minister said. He emphasized that he is here only for one thing and that is to congratulate the para-athletes on their successes. He underlined that he was not only following the developments at the Para Asian Games very closely but also living through it. He lauded their contributions and also congratulated their coaches and their families. Modi expressed gratitude on behalf of the 140 crore citizens of the country.
Underling the extremely competitive nature of sports, the Prime Minister also dwelled on the internal competition of the athletes within themselves as they compete with each other. He acknowledged the highest level of practice and dedication of the athletes. “All of you present here, some came back winners, some wiser but none came back defeated”, the Prime Minister said. “There is no losing in sports, only winning or learning”, the Prime Minister underlined as he highlighted the learning process involved in sports. The Prime Minister related with the athletes for their record-breaking performance and recalled the feeling when he was congratulated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his record electoral performance in Lok Sabha from Gujarat. “These 111 medals are not just numbers but 140 crore dreams”, he added. He informed that the number is three times the number of medals won in 2014 while the number of gold medals is ten times more and India moved from 15th place in medal tally to top 5.
The Prime Minister highlighted India’s recent achievements in the field of sports during the past few months and said, “Your success at the Para Asian Games is the icing on the cake”. He mentioned the Gold Medal at the World Athletics Championship in Budapest in August, the Badminton Men’s Team’s first gold medal at the Asian Games, the first medal by the Women’s Pair in Table Tennis, the Thomas Cup victory by the Men’s Badminton Team, record 107 medals including 28 gold medals at Asian Games, and the most successful medal tally at the Asian Para Games.
Recognizing the special nature of Para Games, the Prime Minister said that a sports victory by a divyang is not a matter of inspiration in sports only but it is a matter of inspiration in life itself. “Your performance can re-energize any person howsoever deep in the grip of despondency”, PM Modi said. The Prime Minister highlighted the progress of India as a sporting society and its sporting culture. “We are trying to organize the 2030 Youth Olympics and the 2036 Olympics”, he said.
The Prime Minister said that there are no shortcuts in sports and said that players rely on their capabilities but a little help has a multiplier effect. He stressed the need for collective support of families, society, institutions, and other supporting ecosystems. He mentioned changing the outlook towards sports in the families.
“Society has started recognizing sports as a profession, unlike earlier times”, the Prime Minister remarked. He highlighted the transformation in approach by the present government from ‘athletes for the government’ to ‘government for the athletes’ and credited the sensitivity of the government towards the success of athletes. “When the government recognizes the dreams and struggles of the athletes, its impact can be witnessed in its policies, approach, and thinking”, PM Modi emphasized. He lamented the lack of policies, infrastructure, coaching facilities, and monetary assistance for the athletes by the previous governments and said that it had become a huge hurdle in attaining success. In the past 9 years, the Prime Minister said that the nation has grown out of the old system and approach. He mentioned that 4-5 crores are being spent on various athletes today. “Government’s approach today is athlete-centric”, the Prime Minister said as he underlined that it is removing obstacles and creating new opportunities for them. “Potential plus Platform is equal to Performance. Performance gets a boost when potential finds the needed platform”, he remarked and mentioned the Khelo India Scheme which catapulted the athletes to success by identifying them on the grassroots levels and nurturing their talent. He also mentioned the TOPS Initiative and a Disability Sports Training Center.
The Prime Minister said that the athletes’ resilience in the face of difficulties is their greatest contribution to the nation. He said that you have overcome insurmountable obstacles. This inspiration is recognized everywhere, the Prime Minister mentioned the praise for para-athletes on social media platforms. Every section of society is drawing inspiration from the para-athletes. “Your participation in every tournament is the victory of human dreams. This is your biggest legacy. And that is why I am confident that you will work hard like this and keep making the country proud. Our government is with you, the country is with you”, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister concluded by reiterating the power of resolve. He said that as a nation we don’t stop at any milestone and rest on our laurels. “We have reached among the top 5 economies, I emphatically say that we will be among the top 3 economies within this decade, and in 2047 this nation will become Viksit Bharat”, he said.
Union Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur, President of Paralympics Committee of India, Smt. Deepa Malik, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda, and Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports, Nisith Pramanik were present on the occasion.
India won a total of 111 medals including 29 gold medals in the Asian Para Games 2022. The total medal tally at the Asian Para Games 2022 witnessed a 54% increase over the previous best performance (in 2018), and the 29 gold medals won were almost twice as won in 2018.
The program was attended by the athletes, their coaches, officials from the Paralympic Committee of India & Indian Olympic Association, representatives from National Sports Federations, and officials from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.