Speaking to the para-athletes who achieved a remarkable 111 medals at the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou, Modi emphasised his government’s unwavering commitment to providing top-notch facilities for athletes.
“Today, we are seeing the wind of change in the country. Earlier, when someone used to take up sports, people never used to take is as a settled part of life. But, now, things are changing. The govt is there for the sportspersons now,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also reaffirmed his government’s dedication to making every effort to bring the 2030 Youth Olympic Games and the 2036 Summer Olympics to India.
He noted that India has consistently produced exceptional athletes, but their progress was hindered in the past by a lack of early financial support.
“India has always produced good athletes, but lack of support or financial support held them back. In nine years (of the government), that old thinking has changed. Today 4-5 crore rupees are being spent on individual athletes. The government is athlete-centric and clearing hurdles in their way.
“Only when potential gets the right platform, can performance be ensured and schemes like Khelo India and Target Olympic Podium Scheme are some such big initiatives of the government,” said Modi.
Modi added that the 111 medals the para athletes had brought back home from China were not mere medals but the fruition of the dreams 140 crore people of the country had seen.
“The number is three times from what we bagged at the 2014 Asia Para Games in Korea. We have won 10 times more gold medals. In 2014, Indian para athletes finished in 15th spot, now they are in top-five.”
Relating their performance with the growth of the country’s economy since 2014, Modi said, “In these nine years, the country has become the fifth-largest economy from 10th, and by 2047 it will be the third-largest India and a developed country. Today, you too have taken the country from 10th to fifth.”
“The last few months have been amazing for Indian sports and this performance is the icing on the cake. You performance had enthused the entire nation,” said Modi.
Modi added that whenever a para athlete returns home successful, he does not just cover himself in glory but also becomes an inspiration for the entire nation.
“They make everyone sit up and think, if someone with disability is doing so well, it becomes an inspiration for them (able-bodied). Your performance affects people in all walks of life by inspiring them.”
The PM urged the para athletes to encourage children in their families and homes to take up sports.
“Today families are encouraging sports, it’s becoming a new culture.”
The PM also informed that a state-of-the-art Disability Sports Training Centre had been set up in Gwalior.
The PM urged the para athletes to not just stop here and to move ahead with new determination and promises.
“Whatever hurdles you have overcome is the biggest contribution from you to the country. Many of you have lived with disability since birth, and many of you have suffered mishaps.
“Your achievements are an inspiration to the national, and a victory of human spirit over adversity. The government and the government is with you in your progress.”
(With PTI Inputs)