'They are India's pride': Narendra Modi responds to Sachin Tendulkar's request to motivate athletes

Rio 2016: Narendra Modi responds to Sachin Tendulkar's request to support Olympic-bound athletes

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Saturday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk about some of the sportspersons, who are striving to bring laurels for the country at the ongoing Rio Olympics, in his speech on 70th Independence Day.

Modi, in response, decided not to wait till India's Independence Day to lavish praise on the athletes, and went for it straightaway on Saturday.

"I appreciate the thought of @sachin_rt but I want to add-why wait for 15th August to speak about the subject. I want to do so now," the Prime Minister wrote on his official Twitter handle.

"India is phenomenally proud of all our athletes in Rio & their hardwork that got them there. Victory & setbacks are all a part of life.

"I urge all athletes who have their games remaining to give their best & play with determination, not get burdened by what the result will be.

"The endurance, determination & dedication of every Indian athlete who is in Rio makes us very proud. They are India's pride," Modi further wrote.

The Indian Olympic contingent, which is the largest ever with 118 athletes, is yet to win a medal with the mega-event going into its eighth day on Saturday.

Among the key medal hopes, 2008 gold medallist Abhinav Bindra had come agonisingly close, but ended up in the fourth position in the Men's 10m Air Rifle event.

Modi has asked for suggestions from the citizens of India on what he should include in his speech on Independence Day, through his newly launched mobile application -- "Namo".

In a letter to Modi's app, Tendulkar has urged the Prime Minister to say some encouraging words to all those athletes who have failed to win a medal at the Rio Games and also those who are still striving hard to get one.

"Words of encouragement from you will definitely help some who are deeply disappointed at their performance while the others maybe further motivated to excel at the Games," Tendulkar wrote.

"The sportspersons representing India at the Olympics have come from various parts of the country and each of them is a fascinating example of human spirit and perseverance. Representing one's nation at the Olympics is a rare achievement. Our champion athletes need to be celebrated and applauded as they have competed with the very best in the world, overcoming several challenges on the field and beyond!

"They are winners in every right and truly deserve the recognition which can inspire many more to follow their footsteps," 43-year-old batting legend added.

An Indian Olympic Association (IOA) goodwill ambassador, Tendulkar was present in Rio de Janeiro to boost the morale of the athletes.

Urging Modi to emphasise on the significance of sports in everyone's life, Tendulkar said: "In the past, you have emphasised on the significance of sports in our lives and the need for more and more citizens, especially the youth to adopt the 'sporting way'.

"India has the largest youth population in the world and is marching towards being the youngest nation in terms of the average age of citizens. We are presented with an opportunity to nurture the sporting culture in India. A sporting nation will also be a healthy nation fighting the growth of lifestyle diseases threatening us."

With inputs from PTI

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