Rio de Janeiro: India’s cricketing legend and the Olympic contingent’s brand ambassador, Sachin Tendulkar gave a huge fillip to the Indian athletes with his visit to the Olympic Village on Saturday.
Tendulkar, whose love for non-cricketing sports is as well known as his prowess in cricket, paid the visit despite being hampered by the leg brace he is wearing post a knee operation about a month ago. He walked from the transport area to the residential wing.
Tendulkar was received at the Games Village by Rakesh Gupta, Chef de Mission, who escorted him to the residential area and introduced him to each member of the contingent.
Tendulkar, who has been tweeting and speaking in awe of the preparation the athletes put in to qualify for the Olympics, said: “I bring to you the wishes of more than a billion people from India. I am not here to give you a lecture, I know you are among the best in your sport and have worked so hard to reach this level. All I want you to know is that the entire nation is behind you and we all want you to do well.”
“I have played enough sport to know the hard work that is required and we all want you to put up your best performances and keep improving and not to think only about medals. Just do your best and everything will follow. My best wishes to all of you,” he added.
Gupta speaking on behalf of the contingent said: “Thank you Sachin for visiting us in the Village. It is a big morale booster for all of us and I am sure all athletes will be inspired by your visit.”
Gupta presented Sachin a memento on behalf of the Indian contingent and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). He was accompanied by Anandeshwar Pander, Deputy Chef de Mission of the contingent.
Sachin spent around 45 minutes to an hour meeting the 60-odd athletes who were present in the Village when he paid the visit. He took pictures of the athletes and they were thrilled to get their pictures with Sachin.
In fact he took turns for group pictures with members of each discipline separately. “This is a big thrill for me, being with you all,” he said.
When asked about the feel of the Olympic Village as opposed to cricket, he said, “I stayed in the Games Village when we had cricket in the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. It was a great experience. That’s why I wanted to come and visit this place. The trip to Rio has been great and I am sure all our athletes will do their best to bring laurels to India.”
Among the athletes present were the women’s hockey players, athletes, including Dutee Chand, Srabani Das and others; badminton players including coach, Pullela Gopichand, golfer SSP Chawrasia, the boxers, lone judoka Avtar Singh and some others.