I would like to say something before I talk to them.
I am glad that I got an opportunity to meet you. I would have been happier if I could meet you in person, but many of you are still busy with your coaching abroad. On the other hand, I am also busy as the Parliament is in session.
Today is 20th July. This is also a very important day for the world of sports. Some of you must be aware that today is International Chess Day. It is also very interesting that the Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham on 28th July and on the same day the Chess Olympiad will start in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu. That is, the Indian players have a golden opportunity to show their talent and dominate the world in the next 10-15 days. I wish all the very best to every player of the country.
Many athletes have already given proud moments to the country in several major sports competitions. This time too, all the players and coaches are full of enthusiasm. Those who have prior experience of playing in the Commonwealth Games have a chance to try themselves again. I am sure that more than 65 athletes who are taking part in this tournament for the first time will also leave a tremendous impression. You are the expert in what you have to do and how to play. All I will say is that play with your full might and without any tension.
And you must have heard that old dialogue. No one is there to challenge you, why are you bothered? You have to go there and play with this attitude. I do not want to offer more advice. Let's start the conversation. Whom should I talk to first?
Presenter: Avinash Sable is an athlete who comes from Maharashtra.
PM: Avinash, Namaskar!
Avinash Sable: Jai Hind, Sir. I, Avinash Sable, am representing India in the 3000 metre event in the Commonwealth Games.
PM: Avinash, I am told that you are in the army and you were also posted in Siachen. First of all, tell me your experience of performing your duty in the Himalayas since you come from Maharashtra.
Avinash Sable: Sir, I am from Bid district of Maharashtra. I joined the Indian Army in 2012. I did regular duty in the army for four years and I got to learn a lot during those years. Out of the four years, there is a very stringent training for nine months. That training made me very strong. I think I will do very well in any field in view of that training. I am very grateful to the army for sending me to the Commonwealth Games. I have benefited a lot due to the discipline in the army and my posting in a difficult terrain.
PM: Avinash, I have heard that you decided to choose steeplechase only after joining the army. Is there any connection between Siachen and steeplechase?
Avinash Sable: Yes, Sir. We have similar training in the army as steeplechase is also full of obstacles. There are several barriers and water jumps in steeplechase. In the army training also, we have to clear many obstacles and hurdles. We have to crawl and jump a nine-foot ditch. There are so many obstacles which we have to clear during our training in the army. Therefore, I am finding this steeplechase event quite easy after my training in the army.
PM: Avinash, tell me one thing. You were overweight earlier and you lost your weight in a very short time. And as I can see you today, you look very thin. I also noticed that Neeraj Chopra had also reduced his weight in a very short time. I think if you share your experience with us how you reduced your weight. It can also be handy for people other than those in sports.
Avinash Sable: Sir, I was overweight when I was a soldier in the army. At that time, I thought of joining sports. My unit and the army also motivated me to join sports. My weight was too much as far as running was concerned. I weighed around 74 kg and I was very worried. But the army supported me and scheduled extra time for me so that I could train. It took me about three-four months to reduce my weight.
PM: How much weight did you lose?
Avinash Sable: Sir, now its 53 kg. Earlier it was 74 kg. So, I lost around 20 kg.
PM: Oh, you really lost a lot. Avinash, I best thing I love about sports and it definitely touches my heart that one does not carry the baggage of victory or loss. Every time the competition is new and fresh. And you have told me that you are all set. The best wishes of all the countrymen are with you. Play with full energy. Who do we talk to now?
Presenter: Sir, Achinta Sheuli is from West Bengal and he is a weightlifter.
PM: Achinta ji, Namaste!
Achinta Sheuli: Namaste, Sir. I am from West Bengal and studying in 12th standard.
PM: Tell me something about yourself.
Achinta Sheuli: Sir, I will compete in the 73 kg category.
PM: Achinta, people say that you are very calm. Very cool! And your sport is all about power. So, how have you synchronized this power and peace?
Achinta Sheuli: Sir, I do yoga and, as a result, the mind becomes calm. But during training, I am full of enthusiasm.
PM: Achinta, do you practice yoga regularly?
Achinta Sheuli: Yes, Sir. But sometimes I do miss out.
PM: Ok, who all are there in your family?
Achinta Sheuli: I have my mother and elder brother, Sir.
PM: Do you get support from the family?
Achinta Sheuli: Yes, Sir. I have full support from my family. They also encourage me to perform better. I talk to them daily. There has always been their support, Sir.
PM: But your mother must be very worried about injuries, because there is always this concern of injury during weightlifting.
Achinta Sheuli: Yes, Sir. Whenever I speak with my mother, she always tells me to play cautiously.
PM: I want you to do well and you should benefit. How have you prevented yourself from injuries? Have you made any special preparation?
Achinta Sheuli: No, Sir. Injuries are common. But I do ponder over it whenever I suffer any injury. What was my mistake which led to injury? Then I correct myself. Slowly, injuries became the thing of the past.
PM: Achinta, I am told that you are very fond of watching films. Do you watch films? Do you get enough time from your training?
Achinta Sheuli: Yes, Sir. I don’t get that much time. But whenever I am free, I do watch, Sir.
PM: That means you will start watching films once you return with a medal.
Achinta Sheuli: No, no, Sir.
PM: Ok, my best wishes are with you. I would also like to appreciate your family, especially your mother and brother, who did not let any problem in your preparation. I am of the view that the entire family also has to put in a lot of effort along with the player. Give your best performance in the Commonwealth Games. You have the blessings of your mother and the people of the country. Many best wishes to you, Achinta.
Achinta Sheuli: Thanks, Sir.
Presenter: Sir, Treesa Jolly is from Kerala and she plays badminton.
Treesa Jolly: Good Morning, Sir. I am Treesa Jolly. Sir, I am taking part in the badminton event during the 2020 Commonwealth Games.
PM: Treesa, you are from Kannur district. Agriculture and football are very popular there. Who inspired you to get into badminton?
Treesa Jolly: Sir, my father motivated me to play the sport as volleyball and football is most popular in my hometown. But badminton is more convenient to play at that age - at the age of 5.
PM: Treesa, I am told that both you and Gayathri Gopichand are very good friends and are also doubles partners. Tell me about your friendship and on-field partner.
Treesa Jolly: Sir, I have good bonding with Gayathri. When we play, we are a very good combination. I feel it’s very important to have good bonding with partners.
PM: Ok, Treesa. What are your and Gayanthri’s plans to celebrate upon your return?
Treesa Jolly: We will celebrate if we win a medal there. As of now, I can’t say how we will celebrate.
PM: P.V. Sindhu had decided that she would eat ice cream after her return. You have made a wonderful start. You have your entire career before you. This is just the beginning of victories and you give your hundred percent in every match. Take every match very seriously. It does not matter what the outcome is. See, you should feel that you have given your best performance. Many best wishes to you and others!
Treesa Jolly: Thank You, Sir.
Presenter: Sir, now we have Miss Salima Tete who is a hockey player from Jharkhand.
PM: Salima ji, Namaste!
Salima Tete: Good Morning, Sir.
PM: How are you, Salima ji?
Salima Tele: Very well, Sir. How are you?
PM: Where are you for coaching? Abroad!
Salima Tete: Yes, Sir. The entire team is in England.
PM: Salima, I was reading about you that you and your father had to struggle a lot for hockey. If you tell us your journey from the beginning till now, then it will inspire the players of the country.
Salima Tete: Yes, Sir. I am from a village. My father also used to play. It has been very long since Papa quit playing. Wherever Papa used to go to play, I would accompany him on a cycle. I used to watch him and try to understand the game. I wanted to learn hockey from my Papa. I also used to watch Asunta Lakra from Jharkhand. I wanted to become like her. Slowly, I started understanding the game and realized that it can give a lot to my life. I have learnt from Papa that one gets so much only after struggle. It really makes me very happy that I have learnt a lot from him.
PM: Salima, you really impressed with your game during the Tokyo Olympics. I think if you share your experience during the Tokyo games, everyone will like it.
Salima Tete: Of course, Sir. We had an interaction with you ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Now, we already are with you before the Commonwealth Games. You motivated us before we went to the Tokyo Olympics. We felt very happy and motivated. When we went to the Tokyo Olympics, we had only this thing in our mind that we had to do something extraordinary. This is the same approach for this tournament also. There was Covid during the Tokyo Olympics and it was very difficult. We were prepared to learn and do something in Tokyo. You keep supporting us like this so that we can make further progress. Our team performed very well in the Tokyo Olympics and it created our identity. We have to continue this, Sir.
PM: Salima, you are so young but have played many international matches. I am of firm belief that your experience will help you a lot in the future. You will go places in the future. I, along with the country, offer my best wishes to both the women and men’s hockey teams. All of you should play with full enthusiasm and without any tension. Everybody will give their best performance and the medal is certain. Many best wishes to all of you!
Salima Tete: Thank You, Sir.
Presenter: Sir, Sharmila is from Haryana. She is a shot put player in Para-athletics.
Sharmila: Namaste, Sir.
PM: Namaste, Sharmila ji. You are from Haryana and Haryana is known for sports. You began your career at the age of 34 years and you won the Gold medal within two years. I would also like to know about this miracle? What is your inspiration?
Sharmila: I am from Rewari in Mahendragarh district in Haryana. I have faced many difficulties in my life, Sir. I had an interest in sports since my childhood, but I did not get any opportunities. My family was very poor. My mother was blind. We have three sisters and a brother. We were very poor, Sir. I was married off at an early age. My husband was not good and I had to face atrocities at his hands. I have two daughters and both of them are into sports. I and my daughters suffered a lot and my parents brought me home. I have been living with my parents for the last six years. But I have had this desire to do something since childhood. But I did not get any avenue, Sir. I saw a career in sports after my second marriage. We have a relative Tekchand Bhai, who was a flag bearer. He supported me a lot and trained me vigorously for four hours every morning and evening. I owe a lot to him and it is because of him that I have got a gold medal within a year or two.
PM: Sharmila ji, you had to suffer so much in your life. Anybody in your place would have given up, but you did not give up. Sharmila ji, you are a role model for the entire nation. You have two daughters. As you said, they are also interested in sports. Does Devika take interest and ask you about your game? What is the interest of your daughters?
Sharmila: Sir, the elder daughter is into javelin and she will play in Under-14 soon. She will become a very good player. It will be known when the Khelo India Youth games will be held in Haryana. My younger daughter plays table tennis. I wish to make the life of my daughters better by bringing them into sports so that they do not have to undergo what I suffered.
PM: Sharmali ji, your coach Tekchand ji has been a Paralympian. You must have learnt a lot from him.
Sharmila: Yes, Sir. He has inspired me and made me practice for four-four hours. When I would not go to the stadium, he would take me there forcefully. I would become tired, but he inspired me not to accept defeat easily. He would always tell me to put in my maximum efforts for a better result.
PM: Sharmila ji, when you decided to take up sports, many at that age find it difficult. You have proved that if there is a passion for victory, no goal is impossible. Every challenge is defeated if you have passion. Your devotion inspires the entire nation. Many best wishes to you! And your dream for your daughters will surely be fulfilled. The passion with which you are working, the life of your daughters will become equally bright. Many good wishes to you and blessings to your children!
Presenter: Mr. David Beckham from Havelock. He is from Andaman and Nicobar and he is into cycling.
David: Namaste, Sir.
PM: Namaste, David. How are you?
David: I am fine, Sir.
PM: David, your name is after a very famous football player. But you do cycling. Do people also advise you to play football? Ever thought that you should play football professionally or cycling has been your first choice?
David: I was interested in playing football professionally. But we did not have the scope of football in Andaman and Nicobar. That's why I could not turn to football.
PM: David ji, I am told that there is another player in your team whose name is after a famous football player. Do both of you play football during free time?
David: We do not play football because we are focused on our training in track cycling. We are involved in the training full time.
PM: David ji, you have faced many hardships in your life but you never got rid of the cycle and it needs a lot of motivation. Keeping yourself motivated is a wonder in itself, how do you do it?
David: My family members motivate me a lot that I have to go ahead and win medals. It will be a great deal in Andaman if I bring a medal by playing outside India.
PM: David ji, you also won a gold medal in the Khelo India Youth Games. How did the Khelo India Games help you? How did this victory strengthen your resolve?
David: That was the first time when I broke my national record, twice. I was very happy when you mentioned me during one of the episodes of ‘Mann ki Baat’. I felt motivated. I am a player from Nicobar and Andaman and I am representing the national team. My Andaman team also feels very proud that I graduated from national to international games.
PM: See David, you remembered Andaman-Nicobar and I would say that you come from the most beautiful place of the country. You would hardly be one or one-and-a-half years old when you lost your father in the Tsunami which struck Nicobar. You lost your mother after a decade. I remember I visited the Tsunami Memorial to pay tribute to all those whom we lost when I went to Nicobar in 2018. I salute your family that they encouraged you despite so many hardships. The blessing of every citizen of the country is with you. Many best wishes to you!
David: Thank you, Sir.
As I said earlier, it would have been nice if I could meet you and talk to everyone in person. But as I said, many of you are undergoing training in different countries of the world and I am also very busy due to the ongoing Parliament session, and therefore, it was not possible to meet you this time. But, I promise you that we will definitely celebrate your victory together when you return. The entire country will be eyeing Neeraj Chopra also.
This is the most important period in the history of Indian sports. Today, the spirit of players like you is high, your training is also getting better and the atmosphere in the country towards sports is also tremendous. You are climbing new peaks and creating new records. Many of you are consistently giving commendable performances in international tournaments. The whole country is experiencing this unprecedented confidence today. And friends, our Commonwealth team this time is very special in many ways. We have a wonderful amalgamation of both experience as well as new energy. This team consists of 14-year-old Anhat, 16-year-old Sanjana Sushil Joshi, Shefali, and Baby Sahana. These 17-18-year-old children are going to make our country proud. You are representing New India not only in sports but on the global stage. Young players like you are proving that every nook and corner of India is full of sports talent.
You don't even have to look outside for inspiration and encouragement. When you see your teammates like Manpreet, your passion will increase manifold. A fracture in her leg forced her to switch to a new role in shot put, and she has set a national record in that sport. The player is one who does not give in to any challenge, is always on the move and is dedicated to his goal. Therefore, I would say to those who are entering the international arena for the first time that the ground has changed, the atmosphere has also changed, but your temperament has not changed, your perseverance has not changed. The goal is to see the tricolor fluttering and hear the national anthem being played. Therefore, you don't have to take pressure and you have to leave an impact with a good showing. You are going to the Commonwealth Games at a time when the country is celebrating 75 years of independence. On this occasion, you will give the gift to the country in the form of your best performance. With this goal, it will not matter who is your opponent when you take to the field.
You have all trained well with the best facilities in the world. This is the time to incorporate that training and your will power. What you have achieved so far is definitely inspiring. But now you have to look afresh towards new records. You give your best; this is what the countrymen expect from you. You also have best wishes and blessings from the countrymen. And I wish you all the very best! Thank you very much and when you come victorious, I invite you to come here. Best wishes to you! Thanks!