PM hails Srikanth and Co for Thomas Cup feat


New Delhi, May 22 (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday congratulated the Indian men's badminton team for achieving the unprecedented feat of winning maiden Thomas Cup and said that "this is like a golden chapter in India’s sporting history".

Modi interacted with the players, who shared their experiences from the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup and talked about different aspects of their game, life beyond badminton and more.

Team India led by world championships silver medallist and former world no 1 shuttler Kidambi Srikanth trounced 14-time champion Indonesia 3-0 to lift its maiden cup last week in Thailand.

When Modi asked the team captain Srikanth about his leadership style and challenges, his world number 1 ranking and gold in Thomas Cup, the ace shuttler said: "Everyone was performing great and the task was to bring out their best as a team. Both the milestones was my dreams and I am delighted to have achieved them."

He also expressed his happiness over the privilege of playing the crucial deciding match.

Modi said that due to not so great performance in earlier years, Thomas cup was not very much talked about and he said it took sometime in the country to sink in the enormity of the achievement of the team.

"On behalf of the entire country I congratulate you and entire team as after decades, Indian flag has been firmly planted. This not a small feat…Keeping the nerve and team together under the tremendous pressure is something that I can understand very well. I congratulated you on phone but now I am feeling the joy of complimenting you in person," Modi said.

PM thanked Lakshya Sen for bringing ‘Bal Mithai’ as promised during the telephone call immediately after the victory. Lakshya recalled that he earlier met the Prime Minister after winning in Youth Olympics and now after Thomas Cup win. He said that players feel deeply motivated after such meetings.

"I want to keep winning medals for India and keep meeting you like this," the young badminton ace said.

Modi also inquired about the bout of food poisoning that Lakshya faced during the tournament. When asked about his advice for young children who are taking up the sport, Lakshya urged them to devote their full attention to training.

Referring to Uber Cup, Modi said, "While we wait for victory we will also make arrangement for that." He expressed the belief that the quality athletes of the present team will soon get better results. “Our women team has shown their time and again their class. It is just a matter of time, if not this time, next time we will surely win," he added.

PM greeted the youngest of the lot, Unnati Hooda who complimented Modi for never discriminating between medallists and non-medallists. Praising her determination, Modi asked about the special quality of Haryana soil that produces so many quality athletes. To this, Unnati replied diet of ‘Doodh Dhai’ as the main factor.

Modi told Hooda that he firmly believes that she will shine as her name indicates. He told her that she has a long way to go and she should never allow victories to make her feel complacent.

Referring to Uber Cup, Modi said, "Our women team has shown their time and again their class. It is just a matter of time, if not this time, next time we will surely win."

He further said that ‘I can do it’ is the mood of New India. More than bothering about the competition, it is important to focus on one’s own performance. He said now pressure of expectation will increase which is alright and they should not cave under the pressure of the expectations of the country.

"We need to convert pressure into energy. We should treat it as encouragement," PM said.

In the last 7-8 years, the Prime Minister pointed out, our players have created new records. He noted the sterling performances in Olympics, Paralympics and Deaflympics. Today, mindset is changing with regard to sports, he said.

"This is like a golden chapter in India’s sporting history and champions like you and players of your generation are the authors of this. We need to keep this momentum going”, the Prime Minister added while assuring the athletes of all support from government.