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PHOTOS: PM Modi gives Rio-bound athletes a special send-off

Last updated on: July 04, 2016 17:02 IST

IMAGE: The Indian athletes click a selfie with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the send-off ceremony organised for the Indian contingent for Rio Olympics 2016, in New Delhi, on Monday. Photograph: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday, met with the Indian athletes who will represent the country at the forthcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and wished them luck.

At the function held at Manekshaw Centre, PM Modi interacted individually with the sportspersons and offered his best wishes for the August 5-21 Games.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Jitendra Singh and the Indian Olympic Association officials pose for a picture with the Rio-bound Indian contingent. Photograph: PTI

Notable athletes who met the Prime Minister were shooters Jitu Rai, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Heena Sidhu, shuttlers P V Sindhu, K Srikanth, boxer Shiva Thapa, long distance runners Sudha Singh and Lalita Babar among others.

The Indian women's hockey team with chief coach Neil Hawgood and coach C R Kumar were also in attendance.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, greets London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang. Photograph: PTI

National badminton coach Pullela Gopichand and boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu were also part of the gathering.

The dignitaries who attended the function were Sports Minister Jitendra Singh, Sports Secretary Rajiv Yadav, All India Council of Sports (AICS) Chairman Vijay Malhotra, Indian Olympic Association President N Ramachandran, Secretary-General Rajeev Mehta, Hockey India President Narinder Batra, Hockey India Secretary-General Mohammed Mushtaq Ahmed among others.

IMAGE: Badminton player P V Sindhu gets her racquet signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photograph: PTI

India will be sending its biggest ever contingent to the Olympics this year, with more than 100 athletes having already qualified in 13 sporting disciplines. The previous highest was 83 that the country sent in the 2012 Olympics in London.

More athletes are likely to qualify in the coming days, and the Sports Ministry and IOA are expecting more than 110 to make it to the Games.

During the send-off function the athletes took selfies with the PM and his autograph.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, speaks to boxer Shiva Thapa. Photograph: PTI

"For the first time ever there is a send off by the @PMOIndia @narendramodi for the Olympic Team . What a great gesture, #respect, tweeted, Beijing Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.

"Great to meet our Honourable PM Shri @narendramodi ji..Thank you for all your support," boxer Shiva Thapa later tweeted.

Several of the Rio-bound athletes gave the function a miss as they are currently training abroad.