'The thrill of competing at the greatest sporting event in the world and being recognized as the best sports persons in your country remains unprecedented. I am sure you will be itching to light up Tokyo with your unrelenting resolve and skills.'
India's only individual Olympics gold medallist Abhinav Bindra on Friday lauded the Tokyo-bound athletes for showing great determination and achieving the 'exceptional' feat of qualifying for the Summer Games in the face of the COVID-19 adversity.
Bindra posted a heartfelt message, congratulating all Indian athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Games, starting on July 23.
"Many congratulations to each one of you for having defeated every challenge that dared stand in your way and securing qualification for the Tokyo Olympics 2021," Bindra said in the note posted on Twitter.
"For every athlete, the journey to the Games takes years of rigorous training and is full of hardships and setbacks, it takes immense dedication and resilience to reach where you are now, where only a few special women and men from our nation have gone," he added.
So far, 100 athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Games, including 56 men and 44 women.
"Your rare feat is all the more exceptional considering how the ongoing pandemic would have forced you to change your respective training plans in order to prepare for these Olympic Games," the ace shooter said.
"However, you persevered through these uncertain times by sheer will and determination, to emerge as true champions; as Olympians."
The 38-year-old, who created history by winning the country's first and only individual Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, hopes the athletes would be 'able to highlight the power of sport to bring people together in these difficult times.'
"The thrill of competing at the greatest sporting event in the world and being recognized as the best sports persons in your country remains unprecedented. I am sure you will be itching to light up Tokyo with your unrelenting resolve and skills," Bindra said.
"I want to offer you all my good wishes and support. As an Olympian, you will forever have the opportunity to be an ambassador of the spirit of Olympism and promote friendship respect and excellence wherever you go and whatever you do."
The former World champion in 10m air rifle also offered his assistance to any athlete who wishes to speak to him.
"I am proud of you and wish you all the very best as you embark on your quest of bringing more Olympic glory to India.
"If you require any assistance or even if you just want to discuss my experiences at the Games, I am here always available..." he added.