India have four Olympic Goodwill Ambassadors but on Monday, the Rio-bound Indian contingent got their biggest boost ahead of the Olympics beginning in August from none other than the most powerful man in the country.
The athletes could not have asked for better publicity or a show of goodwill than the Prime Minister of India taking his time to interact with them personally.
As India prepares to send their largest ever contingent to the Summer Olympics -- the number now stands at 103 -- PM Narendra Modi on Monday met the athletes who will represent the country in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and wished them luck.
Some athletes could not attend today...I convey my best wishes to them.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2016
Each athlete has worked very hard to get here. As a nation, we are proud of what they achieved & extend our best wishes for Rio. @Rio2016_en— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2016
He also tweeted messages to all the individual athletes with their photographs and the event they are participating in.
Yes, we know he does not actually sit and tweet from his account but when the second most followed Indian on Twitter gives a platform to all these athletes to be known, there is little else these guys can ask for.
Here's a sample of the tweets from the Prime Minister's account.
Manika Batra will take part in table tennis. Wishing her the very best. pic.twitter.com/LxdGOZB3WL— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2016
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar is all set to take the Olympics by storm. Conveyed my good wishes to her. pic.twitter.com/ipjthYWrkl— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2016
Sudha Singh (Women's 3000m Steeplechase) is world number 15 & Gold medalist in Asian Games 2014. Good luck Sudha. pic.twitter.com/EQ08cu9xRR— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 4, 2016
And you only have to look at how the athletes responded to know how much it meant to them. A majority of them were seen taking selfies with the PM and his autographs, with the PM duly obliging.
At the function held at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi, PM Modi interacted individually with the sportspersons, and wished them luck for the August 5-21 Games.
India will be sending its biggest ever contingent to the Olympics this year with more than 100 athletes having already qualified in 13 sporting disciplines. The previous highest was 83 that the country sent in the 2012 Olympics in London.
More athletes are likely to qualify in the coming days, and the Sports Ministry and the IOA are expecting more than 110 to represent the country in the Games.
First of the Olympic Goodwill Ambassadors, Salman Khan, has been doing his bit by tweeting about athletes from his account. Sachin Tendulkar has been posting video on his Facebook page. Abhinav Bindra, himself part of the contingent sent a motivational letter to the contingent. AR Rahman, well, we are not really sure what the maestro has been up to.
But this has to be, without any doubt, the biggest motivation India's medal hopes could have asked for.
Well played, Prime Minister!
With PTI inputs