Vijay Goel: Winning should be the only goal

The Minister also pointed out how preparations for such big events have changed for the good in the Indian context.

Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel, addressing the media after visiting the Sports Authority of India campus to wish Rio-bound athletes training at SAI.   -  K. Murali Kumar

“Your goal should be to win, win and win,” Vijay Goel, the newly-appointed Youth Affairs and Sports Minister, told the Rio Olympics-bound athletes on his maiden visit to the Sports Authority of India Southern Regional Centre here on Saturday.

“This is the first time that we have such a big contingent,” he said.

“There are 122 members in 15 disciplines. We have provided the players with all facilities — like good Indian coaches and wherever needed foreign coaches too.”

“They have received the required technical support. Physios were provided whoever needed them. For the hockey players, the latest international turf has been given. The Target Olympic Podium scheme has received the entire budget it needed. So the preparations have been very good this time.

“The players also accept that they have received all the facilities and their morale is high.

“Ours is a country of 125 crore people. Every one of them wishes that more of our players perform well.”

The Minister also pointed out how preparations for such big events have changed for the good in the Indian context.

“Earlier, athletes used to go two days in advance,” he said. “Now whoever wants to go however early, he can do so and practise there to get used to the environment.”

Also on the occasion, Goel clarified that athletes who win Olympic medals will be considered for Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards. Though the last date for recommendation has long passed by (last working day of April), an exception like the one made in 2012, the year of the London games, wherein the Khel Ratna award was increased from one to two and the Arjuna Awards from 15 to 25, is expected to be made.

“They are eligible,” said Goel. “Whenever there is Olympics, the number will be increased. But after they get the Olympic medal, which award is bigger than that?”