Tokyo Olympics: Meet the contenders – Indian Men’s hockey team | Tokyo Olympics News – Times of India

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The Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 from 2020 are now around the corner. In our countdown to the Tokyo Olympics we are regularly profiling some of the biggest medal contenders at the upcoming quadrennial event. One team which is expected to do well at the Games this time is the Indian Men’s hockey team.
Hockey has traditionally been India’s best sport at the Olympics, yielding as many as 11 medals from 1928 to 1980. These include as many as 8 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals. However, it has been a long time since India won a hockey medal at the Olympics. The last time was in the 1980 Moscow Games, when the Men’s team won the gold. Can the current Men’s team break the 40 year jinx this time?
Indian Men’s Hockey team (current)
Major achievements:
* Bronze in 2018 Jakarta Asian Games
* Silver in 2018 Breda Champions Trophy
* Gold in 2018 Muscat Asian Champions Trophy
* Gold in 2017 Dhaka Asia Cup
* Bronze in 2016-17 Bhubaneswar World League
* Silver in 2016 London Champions Trophy
* Silver in 2016 Guwahati South Asian Games
* Bronze in 2014-15 Raipur World League
* Gold in 2014 Incheon Asian Games
* Silver in 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
* Silver in 2013 Ipoh Asia Cup
* Gold in 2011 Ordos City Asian Champions Trophy

Manpreet Singh. Pic credit: Hockey India Twitter
India were once a force to be reckoned with in men’s hockey having won as many as eight gold medals at the Olympic Games. In fact, the last time the Games were held in Japan, in 1964, India won the gold medal. But after the gold in the 1980 edition, the wait for the next Men’s hockey medal at the Olympics has been a very long one.
At Tokyo 2020, the 16-member Indian team will be led by mid-fielder Manpreet Singh, who was the first Indian hockey player to be named the FIH men’s hockey player of the year – in 2019.
The Indian team has done well under Manpreet’s captaincy over the past four years, having won the Asia Cup in 2017, the Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 and the FIH Series Final in 2019. They also reached the quarterfinals in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
This will be Manpreet’s third Olympic Games and he will have two deputies in defenders Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh.
Harmanpreet made his senior India debut in 2015 and in the absence of skipper Manpreet in 2019, led the Indian team to a win at the FIH Olympic Test event in Tokyo.
But the most interesting fact about this Indian squad is that out of the 16 players, as many as 10 players are going to feature in their maiden Olympics.
These 10 players are: Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Birendra Lakra.
Birendra Lakra had missed the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a knee surgery.
The Indian players would look to learn from the experience of defenders Rupinder Pal Singh and Surender Kumar and forward Mandeep Singh, who were also a part of the previous Indian Olympic squad in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

PR Sreejesh. Pic credit: Hockey India Twitter
Krishan Bahadur Pathak missed out on an Olympic berth despite being an integral part of the team and former skipper PR Sreejesh is the lone goalkeeper in the squad. However Pathak will travel with the squad to Tokyo as the stand-by goal-keeper.
India have been clubbed alongside defending champions Argentina, three-time world champions and current world no.1 Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan in Pool A.
India will begin their Olympic campaign on July 24 against New Zealand in their first Pool stage match.
Full India Men’s hockey squad for Tokyo Olympics:
Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, 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
Stand-bys: Krishan Pathak (goal-keeper), Varun Kumar (defender), Simranjit Singh (midfielder)

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