Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the National Sports awardees, including Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu and bronze winner Sakshi Malik, at his 7 Race Course Road residence on Sunday.
The PM greeted the athletes on the eve of National Sports Day. Besides shuttler Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi, shooter Jitu Rai and gymnast Dipa Karmakar were also in attendance.
All the four athletes will be conferred with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award by President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Monday.
Sindhu scripted history by winning the silver in women’s singles badminton while Sakshi took the bronze in women’s 58kg freestyle category at the Rio Games.
In a first in Indian sports, Dipa finished fourth in artistic gymnastics in Rio, while Jitu has won over half a dozen medals in the past two years.
“I showed him my medal and he was very happy. He congratulated me and said you did really well and made the country proud. That really made my day. It was a pleasure talking to him and I felt very happy,” said Sindhu after meeting the PM.
Talking about her Olympic glory, she said, “It is great feeling to have won an Olympic medal. It was my dream and it has come true. I am very happy. I am thankful to everybody, Gopi sir, my parents. I am really thankful to the Government as they have been very supportive and also to the sponsors.”
When asked what did the Prime Minister tell her, Sakshi, who burst into the limelight with her bronze medal in Rio, said, “Prime Minister said to me ‘maarna mat mujhe’ (I hope you won’t hit me) and I told him that we wrestlers are very aggressive on the mat but off it, we are very soft hearted.”
Asked if the feeling of winning an Olympic medal has sunk in, Sakshi said: “I couldn’t believe it when I was in Rio. But now it has started to sink in. I am getting a lot of love and everyone has made me feel very special.”
The 23-year-old Sakshi, who was sporting a ‘Rio 2016’ pendent, said it was gifted to her by Gopichand’s sister in Hyderabad earlier in the day.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel, who was also present on the occasion, said, “All the Khel Ratna awardees, Arjuna awardees, Dhayanchand awardees, Dronacharya awardees, Tenzing Norgay awardees met the Prime Minister today and it also included the two medallists from the Rio Olympics -- PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik.”