What should have ideally been a memorable day for the athletes turned out to be quite an embarrassing affair for the Ministry at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium. These athletes who toiled so hard for years with limited sources certainly do not deserve this treatment.
With a large number of fans showing up to catch a glimpse of the athletes it’s a miracle that there wasn’t a stampede there. The 47 athletes and 17 coaches, who participated in the Olympics, apart from former athletes and officials of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and National Sports Federations (NSFs) were also left to fend for themselves.
A number of school children and young participants of the ‘Come And Play’ scheme were also invited to meet the six medal winners.
The anchor’s repeated requests to maintain decorum fell on deaf ears as the six Olympic medalists – Sushil Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Gagan Narang, M.C. Mary Kom, Yogeshwar Dutt and Saina Nehwal – arrived on the stage which prompted a section of the crowd, obviously excited, to stand on the chairs to have a good view of the star athletes.
The worst was yet to come. While speaking about the athletes’ achievements at the London Games during the function, the host of the show goofed up while calling out the players’ names.
He addressed Yogeshwar Dutt as ‘Yogendra’, while Saina Nehwal was called as Sania (India’s tennis player). Talking about shooter Joydeep Karmakar’s fourth place finish at the Olympic Games, the host mistook the Kolkata based marksman for an archer.
Other sports persons who took part in the Olympics, including boxer Vijender Singh and discus thrower Krishna Poonia, athletics head coach Bahadur Singh and legendary P T Usha sat silently under sweltering heat.
On the dais, sports minister Ajay Maken presented the two silver medallists cheques of Rs 30 lakh each, while the four bronze medallists were awarded Rs 20 lakh each.
He said, like OPEX 2012, his Ministry would form an OPEX 2020 in order to help the athletes achieve greater glory in the 2020 Olympics.
“The OPEX 2020 will be launched with a target to achieve 25 medals in the Olympics. As a part of the programme, all athletes would be provided international exposure, foreign coaching and infrastructure.”
In another function earlier on Thursday, Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma presented Vijay and Sushil cheques of Rs 25 lakh and other Rs 20 lakh, respectively.