Sachin Tendulkar presents flashy new BMWs to Rio superstars

Deccan Chronicle.  | Vijay Anand

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Tendulkar presents flashy new BMWs to Rio superstars.

Hyderabad Badminton Association president V. Chamundeshwarnath (from left), P.V. Sindhu, Sachin Tendulkar, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik and Pullela Gopichand share a light moment during a function at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad on Sunday. (Photo: P. Surendra)

Hyderabad: India’s Olympic stars will now get around in style. Silver-medallist shuttler P.V. Sindhu, bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik and history-making gymnast Dipa Karmakar received swanky new BMW cars from the iconic Sachin Tendulkar — also India’s Goodwill Ambassador at the Olympics — at a function held here on Sunday morning.

Also receiving a flash new car was super coach Pullela Gopichand under whose tutelage Sindhu went on to become India’s first ever woman to bag an Olympic silver.

Congratulating the three women on their success at the Olympics, Sachin said: “It was amazing to see the kind of support these athletes got for the Olympics. There were so many people wishing them well, so many praying for them — athletes need nothing more.”

“When I met the Olympians in Rio, I came to know that they had completely cut themselves off from the world, their phones were taken away. That was the kind of focus they had,” he added.

“We are extremely proud of you, we all are praying for you, we all support you now that you have said you want to convert bronze and silver into gold,” he said, referring to the medals won by Sakshi and Sindhu.

Sachin has been a stoic and vocal supporter of the Indian contingent which had come under fire from some quarters for a less-than-stellar show in Rio.

Sakshi, for her part, promised a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 before bashfully asking Sachin if her family could take a photograph with him. “My brother is a huge fan of yours,” she said, much to the delight of the crowd. Earlier, she had said: “I went there (to the Olympics) alone, but now the entire nation is with me.”

Sindhu said all this hasn’t yet sunk in. “This has been a great experience,” she said, thanking Hyderabad Badminton Association president V. Chamundeshwarnath, who took the initiative to give cars to all four.

Dipa was awestruck by the love and attention she’s been getting. “I didn’t even win a medal, but still everyone’s been so kind to me. Thank you!” “Thanks to these three women, India didn’t lose face on the world stage,” said Gopichand. “Everyone said ‘Save Girl Child’, but during Rio it was briefly, ‘Save India’. And they did that.”

Sachin handed over the keys to Gopi, Sindhu, Sakshi and Dipa before they all rushed to the airport to catch a plane to New Delhi where they met Prime Minister Narendra Modi before gearing up for Monday’s National Sports Day festivities at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where the three women will, along with shooter Jitu Rai, receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — the nation’s highest sporting honour — from President Pranab Mukherjee.