New Delhi : Table tennis player Pratibha Devisingh Patil has secured an entry into the London Olympics. Ms Patil, who also happens to be the President of India, passed the tough qualifying round organised at the MJ College in Jalgoan, Maharashtra on Saturday.
“She is a certain medal prospect for the country,” gushed former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi. “She will do India and Maharashtra proud if she ends up in the top three in London. I am instructing V K Malhotra to provide her intensive training at Rashtrapathi Bhavan over the next two months so that she peaks in July-August.”
Rashtrapathi Bhavan sources say that President Patil is so committed to her training schedule that once when former Sports minister M S Gill met her, she was in sports attire and Mr Gill asked her, “Aap kaun?” It may be recalled that Mr Gill had popped the same question once to Pullela Gopichand, former All-England badminton champion and Saina Nehwal’s coach.
RTI enquiries have revealed that the President prepared for London all through her tenure. During her foreign trips, that cost the exchequer 205 crore rupees, Ms Patil interacted with several international table tennis players and coaches.
“The President’s counterparts were delighted to meet a President who is so obsessed with the game of table tennis. Queen Elizabeth has promised to come and cheer for President Patil during her matches in London. I however, like bigger balls. So I am looking forward to watching the lawn tennis matches,” said S M Krishna, foreign minister.
Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has meanwhile slammed critics who said that an already ailing Air India was made to incur such heavy expenditure for the President. “Those who criticise are enemies of Indian sport,” he said. “This is our effort to encourage genuine talent and prepare her for the London Olympics. The Maharaja may be sick but he has a big heart. We will help him out.”
Vijay Mallya has tweeted, reminding Ajit Singh that he too promotes T20 cricket and motor racing and has asked if his Kingfisher too can get some help from the government. “Just like the Maharaja, the King of Good times is also sick,” he tweeted.