Shuttler PV Sindhu and gymnast Dipa Karmakar were given a rousing reception on Monday by the common people as well as their state governments after they came back from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they made India proud by their stellar performance.
Locals in Hyderabad came on the streets to welcome home Sindhu, who became the first Indian woman to bag a silver, and Karmakar, the first Indian to qualify for Olympics after 52 years, was driven in an open jeep from the airport to a large public ground.
Sindhu bagged the silver after going down in a match against World No 1 Carolina Marin of Spain that lasted an hour and 23 minutes. She was beaten 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 by Marin.
Karmakar’s fourth-place finish in the individual vault final at the Rio Olympics is India’s best performance in the event at an international competition.
The 23-year-old from Tripura missed out on an Olympic medal by 0.150 points despite successfully executing the dangerous Produnova vault (15.266) in her second attempt to secure a remarkable 15.066 points in the final.
Victory ride in Hyderabad
Sindhu, along with her coach Pullela Gopichand, landed at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad on the outskirts at around 9.20am.
Telangana deputy chief minister Mahmood Ali and ministers KT Rama Rao and Talasani Srinivasa Yadav, mayor B Rammohan, Greater Hyderabad municipal commissioner Janardhan Reddy and collectors of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts were at the airport to receive them.
The Andhra Pradesh government sent its minister Palle Raghunath Reddy and Vijayawada MP Kesineni Nani, as its representatives to welcome Sindhu. They presented a bouquet and shawl to her on behalf of their government.
Hundreds of sports lovers and school children, who lined up on both sides of the road leading to the airport, cheered her as she came out of the arrival lounge. A large number of cultural troupes brought in by the department of culture of the Telangana government danced and played drums to welcome the star shuttler.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation team burst crackers to celebrate her grand arrival.
Wearing a grey blazer and sporting the Olympic silver medal in her neck, 21-year-old Sindhu along with Gopichand and her parents PV Ramana and Vijaya, boarded Nilambari, an open deck double-decker Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) bus that was decorated with flowers and national tricolour.
The Telangana government requested BEST to provide the bus for Sindhu’s victory rally in the city.
A large number of welcome hoardings have installed by the GHMC from the airport to Gachibowli and other places in the city.
The cavalcade travelled from Shamshabad to Gachibowli stadium, where chief minister Chandrasekhar Rao will felicitate her. After the official ceremony, Sindhu will be heading to the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGDA) in Gachibowli where she will interact with fellow trainees and media.
The Telangana government announced a Rs 5 crore cash reward for the 21-year-old, a 1,000 square yard housing site near the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy and a suitable government job if she is willing. It also announced a cash prize of Rs 1 crore for Sindhu’s coach Gopichand.
Andhra government too has offered Sindhu a job and will give her a cash reward of Rs 3 crore and a residential plot in Amravati, its new upcoming capital city.
Eyes on Tokyo
Hundreds of fans, officials, followers, admirers and well-wishers received Dipa and her coach Bisheshwar Nandi at the Agartala airport. A motorcade of hundreds of vehicles and two-wheelers took to the street in Tripura’s capital before a huge reception ceremony was held to honour the pride of their state.
“I will try extremely hard to get gold medals in the forthcoming Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I shall try to deliver my best in future,” Karmakar said.
“I would have been happy if I had got a medal at the Rio Olympics for the country. I will try heart and soul to get medals in the Tokyo Olympics and other future international events,” she said.
The gymnast was accorded a similar welcome at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi last Saturday.
With her now famous death-defying Produnova vault, Karmakar is currently one of the most well-known gymnasts in the world.
Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik are the only sportspeople to have won medals for India in the just-concluded Olympics. The United States topped the tally with 121 medals, including 46 gold.
(With IANS inputs)