HOCKEY INDIA today announced the 16 member squads of the Men and Women Hockey Teams that will represent Team India at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In a packed felicitation ceremony, Hockey India President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra alongside Mr. Amit Shah, President BJP and Chief Guest for the function, Mr. Vijay Goel, Sports Minister, Govtt: of India and Mr. Leandro Negre President FIH announced and honoured all selected players from the men’s and women’s hockey teams for the Rio Olympic Games here in New Delhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Hockey India President, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra said,
“I am really proud of how our teams have shaped up this year for the Olympics and can proudly say we have one of the most cohesive units for many years in terms of a collective team coming together for both our men and women teams. Hockey being a team sport needs each player to be able to play multiple roles and also be able to support his or her team members on the field. The kind of game the teams have displayed in the last few months is a true testimony of the hard work, sweat and blood each and every one of them has put in.”
“The result is a team that stands before us today, selected basis an exquisite performance and grit to come together and showcase Indian hockey at its best at the pinnacle of sports – the Olympics. Our expectations are high and we look forward to take on the responsibility of being in the spotlight of the Indian Contingency at Rio 2016.”
The men’s squad will be led by in-form goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. The team also features a formidable defense line-up, with experienced campaigners V.R Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and Kothajit Singh. Harmanpreet Singh and Surender Kumar provide the youth to the backline. The midfield combination is strong with Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh, Manpreet Singh, S.K Uttappa, Devinder Walmiki and Sardar Singh all selected in the team. Strikers S.V Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah promise to add steam to the line-up.
The men’s hockey squad has risen consistently up the world rankings since the Asian Games in 2014. Ranked 13 in the world after the London Olympics, the team is now poised at No.5 after their heroics at the recently concluded FIH Champions Trophy.
“With our recent performances, we have shown the world that we can beat the best in the business and that’s what we will aim at doing at the Olympics. This squad is the best representation of Indian hockey and I am confident this combination will bring us the best results. We have received tremendous support from Hockey India and Sports Authority of India who have ensured we get world class training facilities in the lead-up to the Olympics and we hope to live up to the expectations of the one billion people cheering our team as we fly the tricolor at the Olympics. ” said Men’s Team Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans.
The women’s team includes the experience of Deepika Thakur, Sunita Lakra, Sushila Chanu, Namita Toppo and Deep Grace Ekka in defense. In the midfield Renuka Llima Minz, Monika, Navjot Kaur and Nikki Pradhan have all been selected. The forward line includes Rani, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Anuradha Devi Thockchom and Preeti Dubey. The team is supported in the goals by Savita.
This will be the first time in 36 years that the women’s team from India will be participating at the Olympic Games and the women’s squad will vie to make the most of this opportunity.
“It is a big moment for the girls and our realistic goal is to qualify for the quarterfinals and I believe we can do it. The girls have worked day in and day out to get where they are today and we are excited as a team to convert whatever we have worked on during the camps.” said Women’s Team Chief Coach Neil Hawgood.
Wishing the best to the teams, Dr Batra further added,
“Over the past few years, in the lead up to the Olympics, both the teams have shown a lot of resilience and dedication. Hockey India is very happy with how the men’s team has climbed the rankings since the 2014 Asian Games and have brought back the fan following hockey once enjoyed in the country. The kind of support we have received from people in India and abroad has been overwhelming. I believe their excellent showing this year has made them serious medal contenders. Meanwhile, the women’s team has been remarkable in achieving a qualifying berth after 36 years and this is only the beginning for the sport for women in India. I have watched the team play and am sure they have it in them to convert wins at the Olympic Games and Hockey India wishes them the best.”
Being the largest contingent from India at the Olympics all eyes are set on the Indian Hockey teams to push hard and put India on the Olympic podium.