The Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel reiterated the support for Paralympic medallists and assured that their performances in the Rio Paralympics would merit claim for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the same way as the performances in the Olympics.
Addressing the athletes who had returned from the Paralympics, at the celebratory dinner hosted by the Piramal Group on Thursday, the Sports Minister said that they were an inspiration to the whole nation, owing to their ability to overcome their disabilities.
“You are the motivators for everyone,” Goel said.
He was particularly happy with the Prime Minister meeting the Paralympians immediately on their return from Brazil and spending a lot of time with them.
He recalled his meeting with Deepa Malik, who won the shot put silver, and the enthusiasm she had shown which convinced him that she would definitely win a medal.
“The Prime Minister will receive you,” said Goel, as he recalled his response when Deepa sought an interaction for the Paralympics-bound athletes with the Prime Minister before departure.
The Minister announced that a campaign ‘Khelo India Khelo’ to make everyone play across the country would be started soon.
He also mentioned that a website would be launched for sports talent search, by which anybody from any corner of the country would be able to update his details and video, to seek support, on similar lines of the popular ‘Dance India Dance’, television programme.
The Minister mentioned that he was very impressed by the badminton academy run by national coach P. Gopi Chand in Hyderabad during his recent visit to the centre.
“What an academy,” exclaimed the Minister.
He also recalled the diligence with which P.V. Sindhu reported for training the very next day after returning with a silver medal from the Rio Games.
Suggesting that there should be a sports summit like the corporate summit and tourism summit etc., even though sports was not yet a profitable venture, Goel congratulated all the athletes who represented the country in the Paralympics, and praised them for their courage and performances, encouraging them with the words that they could win next time.
The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) felicitated all the athletes, their coaches and people who had supported, on the occasion.
The president of the PCI, Union Minister Rao Inderjeet Singh, thanked the State Governments for their spontaneous announcements of rewards for the Paralympic medallists. He thanked the minister for treating the para athletes on par with the regular athletes for government awards.