Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Paralympians at his residence and individually spoke to each athlete and their coaches. He praised performance and podium finish and inquired about their family members and how they contributed in making them successful athletes.
There were emotional moments as players shared about their family members, who toiled hard to make them reach international level. When PM met noted badminton coach Gaurav Khanna, he told him, “Gaurav you have got so much Gaurav for India!” Khanna told PM Modi that the Tokyo Paralympics ended on September 5, and India’s success in badminton was like a Teachers’ Day gift for him.
Although India had a record haul of medals, athletes told PM Modi that they were not satisfied and that they want more medals in 2024 Paris. “Every athlete is a champion and pride of India,” Modi said and asked them to look beyond wins and losses. Badminton player Palak Kohli remarked that earlier people merely sympathised with players whereas now there is a spirit of pride with which people see para-athletes.
Para-shooter Deepak Saini said PM Modi’s move to call the specially abled ‘Divyang’ has helped change public perception about persons with disabilities. A similar sentiment was echoed by Ekta Bhyan who said that earlier many thought para-athletes are inferior but now, people discuss their exploits on the sporting arena. PM Modi said their achievement will significantly boost the morale of the entire sporting community in the country, and budding sports persons will feel encouraged to come forward to take up sports.
“Your indomitable spirit and willpower is praiseworthy in light of the insurmountable odds that the para-athletes have overcome in their lives,” Modi said. The para-athletes thanked the PM for the invitation. Some of the players gifted their signed sporting equipment to Modi. A stole, signed by all medalists, was also gifted to the Prime Minister.