New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur on Wednesday felicitated India's para athletes who won a historic 19 medals, including 5 gold and 8 silver, in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Nisith Pramanik also graced the event. Secretary of Department of Sports Ravi Mittal, Secretary of Department Youth Affairs Usha Sharma and other officers of the Ministry were also present on this occasion.
During his address, Anurag Thakur congratulated all the para athletes for their fantastic performance and said, "I recall in the 2016 Paralympics, the size of the Indian contingent was 19, while this year the country has won as many as 19 medals! You have shown us that the human spirit is the most powerful of all! Our medal tally has increased by about five times. For the first time we have won medals in Table Tennis, won multiple medals in Archery, competed for the first time in canoeing and powerlifting. We equalled two world records and we broke even more. India's para athletes delivered a perfect podium finish!"
Thakur added, "The government approach in extending support to athletes for international competitions has undergone a transformational change. The government will continue to support India's Paralympians with facilities and funding so that they may continue to excel internationally. We'd like to encourage more regional and national tournaments for our Paralympians so they can regularly compete and hone their skills."
He further said, "The government will continue to support India's Paralympians with facilities and funding so that para athletes can achieve even more medals in 2024 and 2028 Olympics. All the Para Athletes are part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and this scheme will be taken forward and further strengthened to extend greater support to athletes under the scheme. This is also a part of our commitment to realise Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's vision of Inclusive India."
Thakur also said that the extraordinary performance of athletes has changed the attitude towards Para - Sports in the country. The government has ensured world-class facilities and when Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself speaks to the sportspersons and encourages them; in fact during the last interaction the PM spent nearly two hours speaking to the para-athletes and their families. This has an impact on every section of society, whether be it individual, corporate, sports associations or any other organisation.
In Tokyo 2020, India won 19 medals, finishing 24th in the overall medal tally among 162 nations competing and ranking 20th on the basis of total medals won. India had won only 12 medals until 2016 since making its Paralympic Games debut in 1968. (ANI)