Morale down without a single medal in their kitty despite being halfway into the Olympics, the Indian contingent at Rio got a boost from none other than the Prime Minister himself when he tweeted a few minutes ago, encouraging athletes to do their best and leave the rest.
In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister praised the athletes for their hard work and their journey overcoming obstacles to reach all the way to the Olympics, in what, perhaps, was an indirect riposte to socialite and writer Shobhaa De’s unkind taunt aimed at the athletes.
“Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. (Go to Rio, take selfies and come back with empty hands) What a waste of money and opportunity,” she wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Shobhaa De was pilloried by Twitterati and sportspersons, one of the most vocal among them former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. A Rajya Sabha MP, Sachin Tendulkar then went on to request PM Narendra Modi to talk about some of the sportspersons, who are at Rio striving to bring laurels to the country, in his speech in the upcoming 70th Independence Day speech.
Prime Minister Modi has asked for suggestions from the citizens of India on what he should include in his speech on Independence Day, through his newly launched mobile application -- "Namo". In a letter on Modi's app, Tendulkar urged the Prime Minister to say some encouraging words to all those athletes who had failed to win a medal at the Rio Games and also those who are still striving hard to get one.
"Words of encouragement from you will definitely help some who are deeply disappointed at their performance while the others maybe further motivated to excel at the Games," Tendulkar wrote.
The Prime Minister, in his tweets said he did not need an occasion and did not want to wait till Independence Day, and instantly opened up on his Twitter account.
Bharat Ratna @sachin_rt & one of India's most admired sportspersons wanted me to speak on India's athletes currently in Rio, on15th August.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2016
I appreciate the thought of @sachin_rt but I want to add-why wait for 15th August to speak about the subject. I want to do so now.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2016
India is phenomenally proud of all our athletes in Rio & their hardwork that got them there. Victory & setbacks are all a part of life.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2016
I urge all athletes who have their games remaining to give their best & play with determination, not get burdened by what the result will be— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2016
The endurance, determination & dedication of every Indian athlete who is in Rio makes us very proud. They are India's pride.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 13, 2016