Sreeja Akula, who recently claimed the gold Medal in the mixed-doubles table tennis event at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, was felicitated by Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in New Delhi on Saturday. 24-year-old Sreeja, who is a part of Dream Sports Foundation’s elite athlete development program, ‘One Dream, One Lakshya’, won the coveted Gold Medal along with her partner Sharath Kamal at the quadrennial event and they became the 1st Indian pair to win Gold in the Mixed Doubles in Commonwealth Games history. Sreeja was among the 31 athletes making their Commonwealth Games debut who went on to win a medal for India.
Speaking about being felicitated at the grand event in New Delhi, Sreeja described it as a moment she would never forget. “It was an honour for me to meet with Honourable PM Modi and to hear his inspiring words. Being felicitated by him is one moment I will cherish forever. I am grateful for such a warm welcome and it gives me the motivation to continue the hard work,” she said.
Congratulating Sreeja on her performance at the Commonwealth Games, Bhavit Sheth, COO & Co-Founder, Dream Sports, said, “We congratulate the entire Indian contingent on a great showing at CWG and are thrilled that one of our own athletes has brought glory to the nation. Sreeja is an immensely talented, highly dedicated and a determined paddler. We are proud that our program ‘One Dream One Lakshya’ has played a role in Sreeja’s win and career trajectory. She is setting a great example for all upcoming athletes. This is just the start of her journey, and we are confident that Sreeja will go on to achieve bigger milestones.”
Dream Sports Foundation’s ‘One Dream, One Lakshya’ program in collaboration with Lakshya Foundation, identifies young Indian athletes showcasing potential and provides them with holistic and comprehensive support for their steady growth. The selected athletes, including Sreeja, are provided with necessary coaching, competition expenses, monthly stipend, sport-science requirements, and training equipment, along with national and international tournament exposures.
Speaking at the felicitation ceremony, Honourable PM Shri Narendra Modi said “the daughters of India, have made us proud! The medals won by all female athletes will inspire girls across India to join mainstream sports.”
“I am thankful to DSF for all the support they gave me in my journey which allowed me to fulfil my dreams of winning medals for the country on such a big platform. With all the support and constant encouragement being provided to me by DSF and Lakshya, I feel blessed as I can just focus on my sport and my training without worrying about training equipment, medical facilities, and travel issues. I will return to training soon to prepare for the upcoming competitions, and I look forward to making the nation proud once again,” Sreeja added.
Sreeja signed on with ‘One Dream, One Lakshya’ programme in April 2021, with a world ranking of 130. Armed with the support, she won at various national events and competed at multiple international events, climbing up in World Rankings to No. 77. She went on to become the National Champion along the way. Her consistent string of performances helped Sreeja in earning an opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games 2022, where she made our country proud, winning her first gold medal at a marquee international event. Now, Sreeja wishes to continue to improve upon her game and work even harder to bring more laurels to the nation.