Sports minister Vijay Goel, who landed in a controversy after earning a rebuke from organisers at the Rio Olympics for his entourage’s “rude” behaviour, has faced fresh criticism after wrongly referring to bronze medal-winning wrestler Sakshi Malik and silver medal-winning shutter PV Sindhu as ‘gold medallists’.
“Today the Khel Ratna awardee, Dhyan Chand awardees, Dronacharya awardees, Tenzing Norgay National Adventure awardees met the Prime Minister. In that, we also had two Rio gold medallists -- PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik,” Goel told media in New Delhi late on Sunday.
Sindhu scripted history by winning the silver in women’s singles badminton while Sakshi took the bronze in women’s freestyle wrestling 58 kg category.
After his reference to the two Indian players as gold medallists was ridiculed on social media platforms, the minister said on Monday it was a “slip of tongue”.
“One should not make an issue of it. It was just a slip of tongue, I wanted to say medallist, but ended up saying gold medallist. It happens at times. Who knows, might be with god’s grace, we might a bag gold medal in the coming years,” he said.
From selfies with participants to clicking photos with the women’s hockey team, Goel was in the thick of things at the recently concluded Rio Olympics, where the Indian contingent managed to win two only medals.
Continental manager for the Rio Organising Committee, Sarah Peterson, had sent a letter over the Indian officials’ “rude behavior” at the Olympic Games to the Indian chef-de-mission Rakesh Gupta.
Goel, however, denied receiving any letter and said no complaint was made against him.