Tokyo Paralympics: You are all winners and role models, PM Modi tells Indian athletes

Modi virtually interacted with 10 athletes, their family members and coaches of para-athletes including 2016 Rio edition gold winners Devendra Jhajharia and Mariyappan Thangavelu, and urged them to compete without pressure.

Paralympics will be held between August 24 to September 5.   -  REUTERS

"You are all winners and role models," Prime Minister Narendra Modi told India's top para-athletes, who will compete in the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics.

Modi virtually interacted with 10 athletes, including 2016 Rio edition gold winners Devendra Jhajharia and Mariyappan Thangavelu, and urged them to compete without pressure.

He also spoke with the family members and coaches of the para-athletes.

The Paralympics will be held between August 24 and September 5.

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"In spite of all the difficulties in your lives, you did not lose heart and kept on fighting. By your hard work and strong will, you have reached this stage against all odds. You are going to represent the country in the biggest sporting stage," Modi said.

"You all are winners and role models. You should not play with pressure. I hope you all will give your best and medals will follow. You will make the country proud." 

India is sending a 54-member team -- the largest ever -- to the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics.

The medal prospects include Jhajharia, seeking his third Paralympics gold (after 2004 and 2016) in F-46 javelin throw, Mariyappan (T-63 high jump) and world champion Sandeep Choudhary (F-64 javelin throw).

India will compete in nine disciplines.

Mariyappan, who had won a gold in the last edition in Rio, will be the flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

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Besides Jhajharia and Mariyappan, other para-athletes who took part in the interaction with the Prime Minister were Jyoti Balan and Rakesh Kumar (para archery), Soman Rana (para-athletics), Palak Kohli and Parul Parmar (para-badminton), Prachi Yadav (para canoeing), Sakina Khatun (para powerlifting) and Singhraj (para shooting).

The Prime Minister said he is hopeful that the para-athletes will create history at the Games.

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