Mumbai: Midfielder Manpreet Singh will lead the Indian charge at the Tokyo Olympics as the 16-member Olympic-bound Indian men's hockey team look for a new begining in the game.
The eight-time gold medalists in this biggest sporting event of the globe, Hockey Indian while announcing the team leader also named two players who would assits the skipper. Experienced defenders Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh will play the role of second-in-command of the team.
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. They 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.
Birendra, on the other hand, is a veteran defender who was also part of the London Olympic Games but sadly missed playing in Rio owing to a major knee surgery in 2016. But since his return to the squad following the brief break due to injury, Birendra has only grown in his performance and has been resolute in his role in the team.
Meanwhile, Harmanpreet Singh since his senior India debut in 2015 has grown in his role as a dragflicker and defender. In the absence of Skipper Manpreet in 2019, Harmanpreet led the Indian team to a win at the FIH Olympic Test event in Tokyo.
"All three players have been an integral part of the team's leadership over these past couple of years and have shown a lot of maturity in guiding the youngsters during these challenging times," said coach Graham Reid.
"This Olympics will be truly special, and I am humbled to have this opportunity of representing India at the Olympics for the third time, this time as team captain," said skipper Manpreet.
India will begin their campaign in Tokyo on 24 July 2021 when they take on New Zealand in their first Pool stage match.