New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Backstories of struggle, sacrifices and grit dominated Prime Minister Narendra Modi's interaction with India's Olympic-bound sportspersons during which he urged them to forget expectations and focus only on giving their best in Tokyo. Among others, the PM spoke to iconic boxer MC Mary Kom, badminton ace PV Sindhu, talented shooters Saurabh Chaudhary, Elavenil Valarivan and veteran table tennis player A Sharath Kamal during a virtual interactive session.

Well aware of their preparations and formative years, Modi's conversations touched upon the making of their success stories and also some fun queries like the one posed to world champion P V Sindhu.

"There was a ban on eating ice creams on you during the 2016 Olympics, has another ban been imposed for Tokyo," he asked to a grinning Sindhu, who would be aiming to better the silver she won five years ago. "Sir, I have to be careful of my diet," she responded.

Modi called the athletes a reflection of new India said they look bold and confident ahead of the Games. He said all possible help has been extended to them through the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

"Don't be bogged down by expectations, just give your best. I would have been happier to meet you in person, I always look forward to that. But I promise to spend time with you after you come back," he said.

"I am happy that country is cheering for you. I wish all the luck to you. The whole country's emotions are attached to you. I find a few things common among you all, you are bold, confident and positive. That's a common factor along with, discipline, dedication and determination", he added.

What is different about India in Tokyo Olympics 2020?

After performing its best so far with six medals in London Olympics 2012, India could win just two Olympic medals in Rio Olympics 2016 — Sakshi Malik in Wrestling (Bronze) and PV Sindhu in Badminton (Silver) – despite having sent its largest-ever Olympic contingent.

A dismal performance at Rio led to widespread concerns, following which Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed Sports Ministry to form a task force to recommend steps to be taken to improve India’s Olympic performance. The task force comprised eight members including Beijing Olympics’ Gold Medalist Abhinav Bindra, former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha and ace Badminton coach Pullela Gopichand.

For Tokyo Olympics, the task force prepared an action plan which was subsequently submitted to the Sports Ministry. The highlight of the Tokyo Olympics action plan was the recommendation to form an empowered panel with an "athlete-centric, coach-led and system-driven".

India’s medal hopefuls are all set for Tokyo Olympics 2020

India is once again sending its biggest ever Olympic contingent, with 124 athletes from 18 sports disciplines set to travel to Tokyo on July 17 to take part in Olympics beginning from July 23. If India is to better its London Olympics performance, a lot will depend on the performance of India’s star athletes of recent years.

Like London, shooting remains India’s best shot. However, boxing, badminton and wrestling remain the sports with high medal hopes. From shooters, Saurabh Chaudhary, Manu Bhaker, World number 1 Elavenil Valarivan to World Champion archer Deepika Kumari, the adrenaline of the Indian Olympic contingent is defined by the balance of experience of the energy of young athletes.

Posted By: Mukul Sharma