Former Olympian’s open letter to Salman Khan

Former Olympian Neha Aggarwal criticised the IOA’s newly appointed goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for Rio Olympic Games 2016, Salman Khan, for his frivolous comments at the announcement function in Mumbai.

Salman Khan was appointed Indian contingent for Rio Olympics' goodwill ambassador by IOA recently.   -  PTI

Neha Aggarwal was part of the Indian table tennis contingent for 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Games.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Former Olympian Neha Aggarwal criticised the IOA’s newly appointed goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for Rio Olympic Games 2016, Salman Khan, for his frivolous comments at the announcement function in Mumbai.

Neha, who was part of the Indian table tennis contingent at the 2008 Beijing Games, said: “‘Heroine hai Sania Mirza (sarcasm), Vijender hai, Sushil Kumar hai, Cricket mein toh hai hi’ those were your words. And, Vijender Singh turned pro last year, Mr. Khan, whether he can compete at the Olympic Games this summer or not, will be clear this June. Your 100 days to Rio message: Kuch na Kuch leke aao yaar (Please bring something at least friends) I fail to understand, what does this even mean?”

She also lambasted Salman's plea to the sportspersons to 'please win something' and wrote that a motivational speech would have been better.

“Would have been great if you had said — My friends ( yaar), do your best, results will follow, the entire nation is with you, including myself. Jai Hind,” she said.

Neha further added: “Athletes train day and night their entire lives for this one moment to represent our motherland at this one event that comes once in four years, with the aim to win a medal and see the tricolour go high. It takes years and years of hard work and perseverance to produce an Olympic athlete. Sacrifices are made every single day. Strict and disciplined regime, financial inadequacy, lack of infrastructure, uncertainty of a win, and a short lived athletic career: these athletes have made tons of sacrifices in their journey to the Olympic Games. They are motivated enough Mr. Khan. They have their skills that they have been nurturing all this while to support themselves. They have their coach’s support. They have their family's support. They have the IOA and their federation’s support. What they truly need, and what this country needs, is the collective support of the 1.2 billion people that we all are.”

“The athletes want to be recognised on the streets like you are, Mr. Khan. They want the media to publish their stories and achievements more often than it is done now.”

“The IOA has appointed you as the goodwill ambassador to promote Olympic Sports and our jewelled athletes to the people of this nation who are still unaware of these “unsung heroes”. It's their moment Mr. Khan. Please don’t steal it away from them.”

Neha in her post asked Salman to respect the jersey he wore during the announcement event.

“The IOA chose you because you are influential and your words mean a lot to the Indians. They all follow you and are inspired by you. Your Being Human campaign has changed the lives of so many Indians. If you ask them to go play badminton, athletics, wrestling, boxing, table tennis, or any other Olympic Sport, they will listen you. If you ask them to watch the Olympic Games, they will do so. If you post a selfie with an unsung hero, they will share the post.”