New Delhi: Sports & Youth Affairs Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for granting additional funds for the encouragement of all sporting activities.

Addressing the assembled at 7 Race Course Road, on the occasion of the felicitation of the medal winners of the 2014 Asian Games, Sonowal said, “Prime Minister Modi is a sports lover. He made an additional grant of Rs 450 crore to encourage sports, which was unheard of in the past.”

Calling it an act of generosity, Sonowal also offered gratitude to the Prime Minister for inviting all the medal winners at his residence and hosting a breakfast for them.

“This is a testimony of the commitment of the Prime Minister and his government for the development of sports in the country. Prime Minister Modi has also been taking a keen interest in the preparation of the teams,” Sonowal added.

However, recalling the winners’ achievements, Sonowal said to the Prime Minister that in future he will expect the medal tally to increase, stating that an overall position of eighth had to be improved upon.

“In the recently concluded Asian Games, we finished in the eighth position with 11 gold, 10 silver and 36 bronze medals. This, I must confess, is below our expectation. This only shows that the competition in the international arena is getting tougher and tougher and if we have to retain the top positions, we will have to work harder, faster and stronger,” he said.

Further, speaking about the upcoming Olympics in 2016, Sonowal pitched in for the need to strive every nerve and muscle to bring glory to the nation.

“If our neighboring countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan could all do better than us, there is no reason why we should lag behind. The Sports Authority of India has been giving excellent training facilities. We have appointed 33 foreign coaches, given all of you sufficient foreign exposure and provided best equipments that are available,” he said.

Congratulating the medal winners, he assured to them that the Government of India will leave no stone unturned to ensure the best ever facilities for the sportspersons.

“I, on behalf of all in the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), congratulate all the medal winners. A special word of praise is for the Indian hockey team, which won the gold medal after beating Pakistan in a nerve-racking final. I am confident that all of you will put in your best efforts and work harder to bring bigger glory to the nation,” said Sonowal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, felicitating the medal winners of the Asian Games, had earlier said that he looks forward to see India excel in sports and congratulated the athletes who had brought laurels for the country.

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Free Press Journal