“Only yesterday, I told Saina (Nehwal), one day you will get married, you will have your children… but you can continue to play (at the highest level). I am sure your husband, whoever he is, will support you. If I can do it, you too can…”
This candid, from-the-heart advice from Mary Kom, with Saina unable to control her laughter, had a packed hall in splits during a function organised by consumer-durable major Samsung to honour the Indian medal winners in the London Olympics.
Silver-medallists Sushil Kumar and Vijay Kumar received Rs. 15 lakh each while the bronze-winning quartet of Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Yogeshwar Dutt and Gagan Narang took home Rs. 10 lakh each.
These days, the loudest cheers somehow are reserved for Mary each time she is felicitated. The boxer from Manipur stole the show after wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt made an impact on the audience at a function where Samsung honoured the six medallists.
Yogeshwar, who managed a bronze in his third Olympic appearance, said, “All the pain vanished once I got the medal. For years, I dreamt of winning an Olympic medal. After coming close to it in Beijing, I knew, London could well be my last chance. I gave it all. The medal means the world to me. It would have been very difficult for me to live, if I had not returned with a medal.”
Still nursing a swollen right eye, 29-year-old Yogeshwar’s speech drew repeated applause from the audience that included several members of the Olympic contingent.
Sushil, the only back-to-back Olympic medal winner from the country in an individual event, maintained that it was important for him to stay rooted during the times of heady success.
I am blessed
“I have never allowed success, or the lack of it, to affect me as a person. I am extremely fortunate to have good teachers, mentors and coaches. My parents keep reminding me the importance of being humble and acknowledging the contribution made by all well-meaning people. I feel I am very lucky to have the kind of friends I have. They have not treated me any differently, whether my performances are good or not. I think, I am blessed,” he said.
Saina expressed her happiness on being able to win the medal in a year which has already seen her win three titles, including the elite Indonesian Open.
“After losing from 11-3 in the deciding game of my quarterfinal match in the Beijing Games, I could not sleep for many nights. The defeat haunted me. At that time, I was ranked 18th in the world. Today, I am fourth. People expect more from me. I am confident of doing well in the next 7-8 years and come out stronger in what people call the ‘Saina versus China’ duels. I will work harder and become stronger,” promised the popular champion.
Gagan Narang stated that he would like to change the colour of the medal at Rio, in 2016. “I missed the medal in Beijing, and in London, I held my nerves when it mattered to win India’s first medal.
“It feels great. Now I am looking to prepare for the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games before training for Rio,’ said the shooter, a day after he was honoured with Manav Rachna Keerti Puruskar and a cheque of Rs. 11 lakh.
Narang and Vijay Kumar will also be honoured by FICCI on Saturday.