Veteran player Birendra Lakra and emerging defender Amit Rohidas from Odisha have been selected in the 16-member national men's hockey team for the Tokyo Olympics which was announced by the Hockey India (HI) on Friday.
After missing the previous Olympics slot in 2016 due to a major knee injury, Lakra now gets a befitting opportunity to be part of the squad for Tokyo 2020. Additionally, joining the team are Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and debutant forwards, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
PR Sreejesh continues with his third stint as goalkeeper while midfielder Manpreet Singh will bring in critical experience to the team alongside other Olympic veterans like Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar and Mandeep Singh.
With as many as ten Olympic debutants in the squad, the team is fuelled with fresh result oriented intense training and preparation at the ongoing national camp at SAI Centre in Bengaluru.
The Indian men’s hockey team has had a rich history in the Olympics. The side has won a whopping 11 Olympic medals which includes eight gold, one silver and two bronze. However, it has been 41 years since the Indian team last won an Olympic medal and therefore, the current men’s hockey team is very determined to change the course of history in Tokyo.
The current team has won the 2016 and 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Asia Cup Gold and 2019 World Series as well over the last few years.
As a part of Olympics preparations, the men's team travelled to Europe and Argentina for worm ups. Having put up a good show against teams like Germany, Great Britain and reigning Olympic Champions Argentina on the tours, the World No.4 side is pumped up for the Tokyo Olympics. The Indian team also got a chance to return to high-level competition like FIH Pro League where they defeated Argentina in both the matches and set the tone for the Olympics.
The Indian Men's Team are grouped in Pool A along with reigning Olympic Champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan. The tournament takes place from 23rd July to 5th August in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Deep Grace Ekka is the only player from Odisha to be selected in the Indian women’s team announced by Hockey India for the mega tournament yesterday.
The Men’s Squad: Goal keeper-PR Sreejesh; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surenedr Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders- Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakantha Sharma, Sumit; Forwards-Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhay, Mandeep Singh.