While the countdown for the Tokyo Olympics has already begun, several athletes from Odisha are optimistic about putting up a good show in the international event scheduled to be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Odisha hockey players Birendra Lakra and Deep Grace Ekka have been appointed as Vice Captains of Indian Men's and Women's Hockey Teams respectively for the Tokyo Olympics while Amit Rohidas has also sealed a berth in the men’s hockey team.
Defender Birendra Lakra has been appointed as the deputy of the 16-member Olympic-bound Indian Men's Hockey Team along with Harmanpreet Singh. Midfielder Manpreet Singh will be the Captain of the squad.
The 31-year-old veteran defender had earlier played for India in the 2012 London Olympics. He was also part of the London Olympic Games but sadly missed playing in Rio owing to a major knee surgery in 2016. He is all set to put up a splendid performance in the upcoming sporting event.
Speaking about the game plan, Birendra Lakra said, “We will have to sort out the weakness in the team so that we put up our best performance in the Tokyo Olympics.”
Similarly, young defender Rohidas is also hopeful of a good show in the Olympics.
On the other hand, 27-year-old defender Deep Grace Ekka who is in the Indian women’s hockey team for a decade is confident of shouldering the responsibility of the vice-captain in the mega competition.
“I am very happy for being selected for the Tokyo Olympics. My family and teammates are also happy for me. The preparation is underway and we are working hard and hopeful for a good show,” she said.
Apart from the three hockey players, ace sprinter Dutee Chand from Odisha is also hopeful for the Tokyo Olympic. “My world ranking is 42 which is within the stipulated number of 56 sprinters eligible to compete in the women's 100m dash at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Dutee.
“It will be an honour to play the Olympics for the second time. I will try my best to put up a good performance and bring laurels for the country,” she added.
Moreover, an Odia doctor, Bibhu Kalyan Nayak of Bhubaneswar has been appointed as a medical officer for Tokyo Olympics by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
“As the Olympics is being organised during Covid-19 pandemic, it is a unique and challenging situation for us. Many protocols have been designed and we are hopeful to conduct the event safely,” Nayak said.