This year’s Asian Games which are being held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia have been a surprise for the Indian contingent. Of the 44 countries participating in the event India stands at the number 9 position with 8 Gold, 13 Silver and 20 Bronze medals at the end of day 9. India had finished at the number 8th position in the earlier version of the Asian Games held in South Korea in 2014. With 6 more days to go it is quite likely that India will successfully be able to jump over its own ranking and the medal tally too would go up from the previous tally of 57 medals. Apart from the wins and losses we are seeing a definitive change for the better which is setting in the minds of the Indian players and the administration of sportspersons. Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was himself present to boost the morale of the players.
A photo which is going viral on Twitter shows Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore carrying food in a tray for the athletes and the support staff. This is a welcome gesture and is surely a sign for better days to come for India.
— Neelkant Bakshi (@neelkantbakshi) August 27, 2018
A Minister serving food to the players would have been unthinkable 5 years ago when the ministers would have instead carried their own retinue to sporting events abroad ignoring the needs and demands of the players. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore deserves credit for changing the elitist mindset which had existed in the minds of politicians and bureaucrats since ages. The morale of the Indian athletes would have received a tremendous boost upon seeing a top notch politician working not only with them but for them. The medal tally is proof in itself that India has excelled this time; Indian women specially have brought in medals in events which were till date untapped for Indians. Vinesh Phogat’s gold in women’s wrestling, Saina Nehwal’s bronze and P V Sindhu’s assured medal (gold or silver, to be decided after the final) are all firsts for India at Asian Games. Neeraj Chopra who added the latest gold medal to the Indian tally by winning gold in the javelin throw too has broken the national record and has become the first Indian javelin thrower to win an Asian Games gold medal. His third attempt which cleared a distance of 88.06 metres was a phenomenal one with which he excelled his own national record.
The players too have gone out of their way to express gratitude for the ministers and the government which has stood with them at every step of the way. Wrestler Bajrang Punia, who won a gold medal in the men’s freestyle 65 kg category, dedicated his medal to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, after the latter’s unfortunate demise on August 16. Bajrang Punia’s tweet right after winning the Asian Games gold read, “I dedicate my Asian Games gold medal to late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”
— Bajrang Punia (@BajrangPunia) August 19, 2018
The athletes have expressed gratitude and respect for the officials and the sports authorities in various forms. One thing which has changed this time is that the players are no more facing hardships off the field. Indian authorities and the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore deserve credit for changing the way the Indian athletes were treated with both in and outside India.
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