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A ‘medal spring’ awaits us at next Olympics: Pranab

Staff Reporter
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‘Preparations for Rio Olympics 2016 should begin in the right earnest’

Champions felicitated:President Pranab Mukharjee with Olympic medal winners M. C. Mary Kom, Vijay Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal and Yogeshwar Dutt during a felicitation ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday.- Photo: R. V. Moorthy
Champions felicitated:President Pranab Mukharjee with Olympic medal winners M. C. Mary Kom, Vijay Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal and Yogeshwar Dutt during a felicitation ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday.- Photo: R. V. Moorthy

President Pranab Mukherjee does not want athletes back from the recent Olympic Games to rest on their laurels: he is already eyeing the 2016 Rio Olympics and wants the country to start preparing for what he calls a “medal spring”.

On Saturday, during an interaction with the sports contingent back from the recently concluded Games in London, Mr. Mukherjee appreciated and applauded their performance but chose to take on the role of a motivator. His speech was full of instructions and advice on how sportspersons should focus on the next Games and a medal haul starting now.

“There is no time to rest on laurels. We must collectively lift our nation to greater heights. The onus for doing so is not just on our athletes and sports authorities. It must become the duty of every citizen to promote a sporting culture in our country,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Addressing the sportsperson at Rashtrapati Bhavan, he said while India’s position has vastly improved from the past performances, sportspersons and games’ authorities of a nation as a big as ours must strive for more. “Compared to the medal drought India has undergone since Independence, six medals appear a good harvest. However, a nation of 1.2 billion people must do better. India deserves a position higher than the number 55, which we have attained in the London Olympics.”

And for that to happen, the President wants the preparations to “begin from today itself”. “Let us set our goals high and tell ourselves -- ‘Rio, here we come’. I am confident that nothing less than a ‘medal spring’ awaits us at the next Olympics,” he said.

Complimenting the medal winners, the President said those who did not win medals have also done their best for India and the country is proud of the entire contingent. “The winners of the medals -- Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal, Vijay Kumar, MC Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sushil Kumar -- deserve special accolades. Through their success, we have broken through the glass ceiling of our past. What is now needed is a little more determination and perseverance. Our athletes must now cross the last mile. I am confident that if we set our minds to the task, India can join the ranks of leading sporting nations of the world,” he said.

Mr. Mukherjee said there is a need for the creation of sports infrastructure across the country, nurturing of talent from the grass-root level and promotion of a sporting culture. The President also presented commemorative plaques to the six medal winners of London Olympics 2012.

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