Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur felicitated the seven Olympic medalists, namely Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Mirabai Chanu, PV Sindhu, Bajrang Punia, Lovlina Borgohain, and the men's national Hockey team, at a gala felicitation program at the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi.
Among those present on the occasion to felicitate them also included Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju; Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Nisith Pramanik; Secretary-Sports Ravi Mittal, and Director-General, Sports Authority of India, Sandip Pradhan.
Gold medalist Neeraj, silver medalist Ravi, bronze medalists Bajrang, Lovlina and Manpreet returned to India after a long flight today after gracing the closing ceremony of Tokyo 2020 last night. They were joined by the other medalists Mirabai and Sindhu during the grand felicitation.
Sports Minister, Anurag Thakur said, "Tokyo 2020 was an Olympic Games of many firsts for India. The success of Team India at the Olympics is a reflection of how New India desires and aspires to dominate the world...even in sports. The Olympic Games showed us that with self-discipline and dedication we can be champions."
"Team India excelled and inspired while Indians cheered and celebrated all around. Truly sports is a great unifier as our athletes come from villages and cities, north to south, from east to west. Their journey is an incredible story of resilience and sporting excellence," he added.
The Sports Minister further said that there were many firsts, a 128-member Indian contingent, 7 Olympic Medals, our first Olympic gold medal in an Athletics event, two successive medals in consecutive Olympic Games by PV Sindhu, a medal(bronze) won by the Indian men's team in hockey after a gap of 41 years and a historic entry to the semi-finals by the Women's hockey team.
"We also had the first female sailor from India to qualify for the Olympics - Nethra Kumanan, first Indian fencer from India to make it to the Olympics - Bhavani Devi, the best place achieved by an Indian in Equestrian eventing - Fouaad Mirza, the best-ever finish for Indian Rowers, the highest-placed finish by an Indian in golf by Aditi and a national record was set in the steeplechase by Avinash Sable," said Thakur.
"And let me add, the foundations of sports in India are firm; under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, various schemes such as TOPs and Khelo India have shown results ensuring podium finish. We will continue to support our sportspersons and we endeavour to make India a sporting powerhouse," he added.
Kiren Rijiju praised the performances of all the athletes and reiterated that India will be a force to reckon with by the 2028 Olympics. "I am thrilled beyond words to share this space with our champion athletes today. This is a historic event with India registering its best-ever performance in the Olympics. We have much to be proud of, we have a hockey medal after 41 years and a first-ever gold in athletics. And it's not just our medal winners, each athlete has put their best in Tokyo and I congratulate all of them.
"This is just the beginning because India's resurgence in sport is visible now and I am confident that by 2028 Olympics India will be a force to reckon with," Rijiju mentioned.
Several 'Firsts' and other highlights came out of Tokyo 2020 for India, starting with Neeraj Chopra, who won the historic gold for India in athletics by throwing 87.58m at the men's Javelin Throw final. Not only is this Independent India's first gold in Athletics at the Olympics but also the only medal ever by an Indian from Athletics.
PV Sindhu became the only female sportsperson from India, to win two successive Olympics medals - silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in Tokyo 2020. Mirabai Chanu joined the legendary Karnam Malleswari to become the only second weightlifting medallist from the country and the very first weightlifter to win the silver medal.
The Indian men's hockey team, meanwhile, won their first medal in hockey at the Olympics since their gold medal at the Moscow Olympics 1980, whereas the India women's hockey team entered the semifinals of the Olympics for the first time ever. The Tokyo Games, which saw a record representation of 128 athletes from India, also registered their highest tally of medals from any Olympics, which were 7 medals.
Ravi Dahiya became the second wrestler to win the Olympics silver medal from the country, while Lovlina Borgohain became the second female Olympics bronze medalist after the great Mary Kom, and the third Indian boxer overall to win an Olympics medal.
The other highlights of the games included Bhavani Devi, Nethra Kumanan and Aditi Ashok.
While Bhavani became the only fencer from India to make it to the Olympics since the sport was introduced, Nethra became the first female sailor from India to qualify for the Olympics. Aditi Ashok, meanwhile, finished 4th in golf and registered the highest-placed finish for any Indian in the sport at the Olympics.