Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra conveyed a significant message to all athletes as he summed up his sterling performance by saying, "give your 100 percent and don’t fear anyone," at the felicitation function organised by the Union Sports Ministry here on Monday (August 9).

The felicitation function was originally planned to be staged at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium but had to be shifted to a hotel owing to wet weather conditions.

The golden boy Neeraj said that he knew "it was a special throw" after his second attempt in the final, when he celebrated the throw of 87.58 metres. "I felt the effort in my shoulder and elbow next morning," the javelin thrower said cheerfully.

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When Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur asked Neeraj about the hardships faced by the young athletes, Neeraj responded by saying that all the shortcomings made the athletes determined to achieve their goal and become inspirational examples.

'Won their hearts'

Former sports minister Kiiren Rijiju made an emotional speech, and told the women’s hockey team that they had made the whole country cry with them and added, "you played great, you won their hearts."

Rijiju was equally proud that India won seven medals in six disciplines and stressed that there was no event bigger than the Olympics in the world. He was happy that Neeraj dedicated his medal to the memory of Milkha Singh.


Lovlina Borgohain assured that her focus would stay on winning gold in the Paris Games in 2024. - SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA


The men’s hockey goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh quite graciously diverted the praise showered on him to the women’s hockey goalkeeper Savita Punia.

Wrestling silver medallist Ravi Dahiya recalled that he was inspired by the deeds of Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt to perform like them.

Hockey captain Manpreet Singh acknowledged the overwhelming support of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and the government, stressing that the entire team was like an extended family. "We will get back together soon, as we have the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games next year. We will focus on them," Manpreet said.

Boxing bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain said she was "feeling very good after coming home."

She assured that her focus would stay on winning gold in the Paris Games in 2024. Weighlifting silver medallist Mirabai Chanu and badminton star P. V. Sindhu had arrived earlier to a memorable reception.

Anurag Thakur said the Tokyo Olympics saw many firsts for India and assured that the government would work with the federations to help the Indian athletes perform even better in the next Olympics in 2024 and 2028.