Is Narendra Modi Emerging as the Most Sports Loving Indian Prime Minister?
© Photo : TwitterPM Narendra Modi (right) with Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra
© Photo : Twitter
From attending cricket matches, to making phone calls to the country's Olympians, to meeting sports stars in-person, to consoling them after heart-breaking losses, the 71-year-old leader has been found doing it all.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his love for sports. He has been at the forefront of supporting the country's sports stars for nearly two decades.
Long before he became the prime minister in 2014, Modi used to be a frequent visitor of the Motera Stadium in his home state of Gujarat. At the time, he was the state chief and the president of the Gujarat Cricket Association as well.
The stadium was later named after him.
On the occasion of his 71st birthday, this Sputnik correspondent tried to explore if Modi happens to be the most sports-supporting prime minister the nation has ever had.
PM's Way of Honouring and Appreciating Sports on National Day
During the country's Independence Day on 15 August, Prime Minister Modi invited the entire Indian Olympic team to the iconic Red Fort in Delhi and made them a part of the national celebration.
Also, earlier this month, he hosted the country's Paralympians at his official residence in the national capital before lauding their indomitable spirit.
Speaking individually to the athletes and coaches, Prime Minister Modi enquired about their health, their families, and what role their parents played in their careers as a form of their family's appreciation.
Praising Cricketers, Athletes, Olympians Through Social Media
Modi has not only had a long relationship with sports, but with social media as well.
He would hardly miss a chance to congratulate Indian athletes on victories on his social media accounts, which are followed by millions of people.
His inclination to encourage sports and athletes became prominently visible recently when he congratulated the Indian cricket team after they won a historic Test series against Australia in January, and also in his lavish praise of Indian Olympic medal winners.
Giving a Personal Touch to Encouraging Players – a New Normal for PM Modi
The Indian prime minister is today known for personally calling the nation's sports stars, hosting luncheons or dinners for them, and holding informal conversations.
Modi is not only lauding the efforts of winners, but also crediting those athletes who missed out on medals. His phone call to the Indian Women's Hockey team after they missed out on their maiden Olympic medal in Tokyo cheered up the players.
"Please everyone, stop crying. The entire country is taking pride in you. After so many years hockey, India's identity, has been reborn. This is all because of your efforts", Modi said to the heartbroken team, whose members were in tears when the prime minister called.
Women's Hockey skipper Rani Rampal later acknowledged that the prime minister's call encouraged them a lot.
"In my long hockey career, I haven't seen a Prime Minister making a call to encourage players, who have lost a match", Rampal said.
Under the Modi government, India achieved their richest medal tally in the Olympics, winning seven medals in total at the Tokyo Games, including their second-ever individual gold medal, which was won by track and field superstar Neeraj Chopra in javelin.
Indian athletes also produced their best-ever performance in the Paralympics, where they won an unprecedented 19 medals, including five gold medals. The country's previous best haul in these games was four, but in Tokyo their medal count rose by nearly five times.