‘Should I be happy I won bronze or sad I lost the opportunity to play in the final?’

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The competitive arena was not the only place where athletes made a statement at the Tokyo Olympics, which came to an end on Sunday. A whole lot of them also caught the eye with what they were saying on the sidelines.

Here is a look at some of the memorable quotes that came out of the Games:

“It feels unbelievable. This is our first Olympic medal for a very long time, and in athletics it is the first time we have gold, so it’s a proud moment for me and my country.” — Neeraj Chopra on his javelin throw gold, which gave India its first track-and-field gold medal and made him only the second individual gold medallist from the country after Abhinav Bindra in 2008.

“I was so disappointed. No one can know how bad it was. I went to sleep early because I didn’t want to speak to anyone. But I couldn’t even sleep. I think I must have slept for about two hours that night.” — Bajrang Punia about his loss in the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling semifinals. Punia went on to win bronze the next day, but said he was ‘unhappy’ with the result.

“It makes me feel really happy because I’ve worked hard for so many years. I had a lot of emotions going through me – should I be happy that I won bronze or sad that I lost the opportunity to play in the final?” – Badminton player PV Sindhu, who became the first Indian woman to win multiple Olympic medals.

“I think I gave it my hundred percent, but, yeah, fourth at an Olympics where they give out three medals kind of sucks.” – Golfer Aditi Ashok, who was in medal contention right till the end of the final round before she finished fourth.

“It’s been 41 years. In the 1980s, we won the last medal and after that, nothing. Today when we won it, this gives a boost and gives a reason to the youngsters to pick up hockey, play this beautiful game.” – India men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh after the team won the bronze medal.

“Stop all these things like discriminating on religion, casteism because we work above all these things.” – India women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal on alleged casteist abuse of teammate Vandana Katariya following the team’s loss in the semifinals against Argentina.

Abhi kiya na maine thoda balle balle (I did do a little victory jig after winning the medal).” – Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu indulged her fondness for dancing after she opened India’s medals tally at the Games with a silver medal.

“I will take a break of one month or more may be. I have never gone for a holiday ever since I took up boxing, I haven’t decided where I will go but I will definitely take a holiday.” – Lovlina Borgohain on her post-Olympic plans. Lovlina became the third Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal after securing bronze in the women’s weltwerweight division.

There were also several noteworthy quotes from international athletes.

“At the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment. We’re human, and there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle with, as well, on top of sports.” — American Artistic gymnast Simone Biles on the mental health of athletes.

“Not being funny, but it’s not tennis where you can just have a go. You are getting punched in the face.” — British boxer Benjamin Whittaker on the many differences between boxing and racquet sports.

“My husband’s Oscar actually goes in the downstairs loo. Often people mistake it for a loo brush.” British diver Tom Daley on what will take pride of place, his husband Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay Academy Award for the acclaimed movie ‘Milk’, or his gold medal.

“I don’t think I’m a prodigy. I’m not very bright. I don’t do well in my studies. You ask me all these questions and there’s only a blank in my mind.” — 14-year-old Quan Hongchan of China after winning gold in the women’s diving 10m platform.

“How long does it take to apply for a Singapore citizenship?” — Norwegian rower Kjetil Borch, who won silver medal in men’s single sculls, after being told that Singapore’s Olympic champions are awarded up to one million dollars for winning gold.

“I’m all about just being different. I was going to wear a dress to the Opening Ceremony, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. Some people might take it the wrong way, so this is my way of showcasing something.” — Australian boxer Harry Garside on sporting painted nails during his campaign.

“It sucks, there’s no nice way of putting it.” — American Golfer Xander Schauffele on no spectators at the Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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