The HI (Hockey India) on Tuesday appointed experienced defender Birendra Lakra of Odisha as the vice-captain of the 16-member Olympic-bound Indian Men’s Hockey Team.
He is stationed to be the deputy of the team along with Harmanpreet Singh. Meanwhile, midfielder Manpreet Singh will be the Captain of the squad.
This news calls for a double cheer as HI on Monday appointed experienced defender Deep Grace Ekka of Odisha as the vice-captain of the Indian women’s hockey team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Birendra has been a part of the London Olympic Games but unfortunately missed playing in Rio due to major knee surgery in 2016. He is considered a veteran defender.
Under Manpreet’s captaincy, the Indian team over the past four years have achieved important milestones including winning the Asia Cup in 2017, winning the Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 as well winning the FIH Series Final in 2019. The team led by Manpreet also made it to the quarterfinals of the FIH Men’s World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar. They performed exceedingly well in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 before the pandemic disrupted the schedule. This will be Manpreet’s third Olympic Games and under his leadership, the team has also improved their world ranking as they are currently positioned at No.4.
According to Birendra Olympics have always been special to him and being named as the vice-captain of the team made it more special.
“This will be a very special Olympic Games as we have prepared well and are poised to win a medal in Tokyo. Being named as a Vice-Captain along with Harmanpreet is a matter of pride for me and over these past years with India, we have seen players show great mental toughness during our preparations despite these trying times. We just hope to make the hard work and sacrifices count by winning big,” stated Lakra.
India will be performing in Tokyo on 24 July 2021 where they take up against New Zealand in their first Pool stage match.
By Ankita Mohanty