Kolkata: Manpreet Singh, captain of Indian men’s hockey team bound for Tokyo Olympics, showed that his team’s heart is in the right place by announcing that should they win a medal - it will be dedicated to the Covid warriors and frontline workers of India.
. A 16-member men’s hockey squad for Olympics was announced on Friday as both men and women’s teams continued with their tune-up for the sporting spectacle at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bangalore. Once the powerhouses of world hockey, India boast of an unbeatable record of eight Olympics gold, the last of which came more than four decades back in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The squad named by Hockey India (HI) includes as many as 10 Olympic debutants, though they also have ‘‘critical experience’’ in the shape of skipper and midfielder Manpreet, goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh alongside other Olympic veterans like Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar and Mandeep Singh,
“As we work hard towards the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we promise to fight all odds to win a medal for India. And if we do get a medal, we would like to dedicate it to the true heroes of our country – the doctors and frontline workers who have worked tirelessly to heal our country through these tough times and saved millions of lives,” Manpreet said in a recent video released by Hockey India.
“I am really proud to witness the kind of dedication each one of us have been showing during the trials. Representing India at the Olympics is a huge honour and a dream for every athlete. Everyone is pushing each other to give their best shot,” said Manpreet.
Chief coach Graham Reid said in a statement: “It has not been an easy process to make the final selection of 16 players as there is a lot of quality and ambition in this group of players. The performance levels of all the athletes are at an optimum level and more importantly they work well together.
A glorious past
“They know what it means to represent the country at the Olympics. We are now focused on training with the same intensity and our goal is to put forward our best performance as a collective unit in Tokyo,” Reid said.
The Indian men’s hockey team has won 11 Olympic medals in all, includes eight gold, one silver and two bronze. Currently ranked no.5 in FIH rankings after Australia, Belgium, The Netherlands and Argentina, they will be once again India’s best medal prospect among the team events.
As a part of the Olympics preparations, the men’s team travelled to Europe and Argentina. The Manpreet Singh-led side beat Olympic champions Argentina in both the FIH Pro League matches in Buenos Aires in April this year.
The Indian men’s team is grouped in Pool A along with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan. The hockey tournament takes place from July 23 to August 5 in Tokyo.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Singh, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit; Forwards: Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh.