As Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar called the Asian Games-bound athletes on stage, their faces lit up in excitement. Soon, Heena Sidhu, Dipa Karmakar could be seen taking selfies with Akshay, who motivated the participants for the big-ticket event.
The Indian Olympic Association and Indian contingent sponsor Edelweiss ensured that the players were given a perfect send-off. While the sponsors decided to introduce an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh each for all the participants, IOA secretary general, Rajeev Mehta, indicated that the cash rewards would be doubled if India’s medal tally increases.
“This time we are sending 541 athletes and they are all well prepared. The medal tally will certainly go up and the IOA will consider doubling the cash rewards from last time,” Mehta said.
Akshay said he came for ‘inspiration from all the players’.
“It is unwise to single out a particular athlete. I will keep an eye on the entire contingent. Once they return, I will come again to meet all of them,” he assured.
Though the event was graced by some of the top guns like Heena, Dipa, para-athlete Deepa Malik and members of the judo and golf teams, most of the players, who are busy training in different parts of the world, missed out.
Malik urged the people to keep an eye on the Para Asian Games. “We also participate in the Asian Games and are an integral part of the system. But our event starts a couple of weeks after the main Asian Games, and by then, the excitement dries down. Show equal enthusiasm to us as well,” Malik said, assuring that the para-athletes will bag more medals this time around.
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