Odia Hockey star Amit Rohidas who was part of the Indian team at the Tokyo Olympics broke down while sharing the struggles in his journey on the sidelines of a felicitation programme in Bhubaneswar to on his triumphant return.
While speaking exclusively to OTV, the ace defender got emotional over the bronze medal feat which he dedicated to his late father.
“My father who is no more with us had a dream that I would play in the Olympics. His blessings played a significant role in my Olympics journey. He would be very happy today that I returned after achieving success in the game. I am also much indebted to my family which stood firmly behind me during the testing times,” Rohidas said with teary eyes.
He said the victory at Tokyo Olympics was the culmination of a long journey. “Hard labour with strong determination and dedication finally took me to the place where I once dreamt of. I have dedicated my life to hockey. Many times I had practiced the game in empty stomach when my family was reeling under abject poverty. I travelled to far off places on tractors, trucks and cycles for playing matches. My dedication and hard work has finally paid off,” he added.
Birendra Lakra, vice captain of the India Men’s Hockey team also shared his experience in the grand event.
“The quest for the Tokyo Olympics is inexplicable. Mere words won’t do justice. Practice in groups during Covid crisis was a daunting task for us. But, we fought against all odss to reach the Olympic venue. The Government of India and Government of Odisha had lent helping hands for practice in Bangalore and SAI,” he said.
“We had to stay away from our families since the last one year for practice. The sacrifice has paid off very well today.
Lakra said that disqualifying for the Rio Olympics was a nothing less than grief for him.
“I had played in the London Olympics, but was not selected for Rio due to knee injury. I was besieged by all kinds of negative thoughts. I had apprehensions if at all I would get a berth for Tokyo. However, my hard labour and strong determination finally helped me participate in the Tokyo Olympics.” he added.
Lakra while expressing his gratitude to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who, he said, stood behind the team during a time of crisis, said that Patnaik’s inspiration would infuse new vigour in the minds of budding talents.
Lakra has dreams to play the Hockey World Cup to be held in Rourkela (Sundergarh), his home turf. “I have to keep myself prepared for the World Cup. Hosting the world cup in Sundergarh is a pride for every hockey player and sports lover in the district,” he said.
CM Naveen Patnaik today handed over cash award of Rs 2.5 crores and DSP posting each to Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas for the bronze medal feat. Rs 50 lakhs cash award each was handed over to the India Women’s Hockey team members from Odisha, Deep Grace Ekka and Namita Toppo, for reaching semi-finals.