Hockey India on Wednesday recommended ace goalkeeper PR Sreejesh for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, while experienced duo of men’s team midfielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and forward Akashdeep Singh, as well as women’s team defender Deepika, have been recommended for the Arjuna Award.
The governing body also proposed Dr RP Singh and Sandeep Kaur for the Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement, while coaches Baljeet Singh, BS Chauhan and Romesh Pathania have been recommended for the Dronacharya Award.
Rajinder Singh, Hockey India Secretary General said, “We are happy to endorse these current and former hockey players for the National Awards 2019. Over the course of their careers, as players and coaches respectively, these athletes have contributed immensely to Indian Hockey.
“They have always stood out while performing for the nation and have taken the Indian team to great heights. It is with pride that they have donned the Indian colors, helping the team in achieving several successes across many years, and it is with pride and happiness that we, at Hockey India, recommend their names for the National Awards 2019.”
Sreejesh has been an integral part of the team since making his debut in 2006 at the South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. Over the course of his career, the 30-year-old has made over 200 appearances for the country and has won several individual and collective accolades.
After being awarded as the “Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament” at the 2008 Junior Asia Cup, Sreejesh was crowned as the “Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament” at the 2013 Asia Cup where India won the silver medal.
He has represented the nation at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, but his best performance came in 2014 when he was also nominated for the “Best Male Goalkeeper of the Year” award by FIH.
Sreejesh has won a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games, silver at the 2016 and 2018 editions of the FIH Champions Trophy and bronze at the 2018 Asian Games. The goalkeeper has previously been awarded the Arjuna Award in 2015 and the Padma Shri in 2017.
Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, the vice-captain of Indian men’s team, has performed exceptionally at the highest level. He has been part of the team set-up since making his debut in 2011 and has gone on to play over 200 matches, winning various medals including silver at the 2013 Asia Cup, gold at the 2014 Asian Games, silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, gold at the 2017 Asia Cup, bronze at the 2017 FIH World League Final, along with silver at the 2018 Champions Trophy, bronze at the 2018 Asian Games and gold at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
Akashdeep Singh, who has been leading the team in attack with his pace and vigor, has played over 170 matches for the country since making his debut in 2012.
The 24-year-old has won a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games. The young forward has also been part of the team which won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, bronze at the 2015 FIH World League Final, gold at the 2017 Asia Cup, bronze at the 2017 FIH World League Final, bronze at the 2018 Asian Games and gold at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
Indian women’s team defender Deepika has been in charge of the defensive duties for the past decade and a half. The Haryana-born has represented India at the FIH World Cup thrice, in 2006, 2010 and 2018 editions. The Defender has over 200 international caps to her name and has taken part in some important tournaments for the country including a gold medal at the 2017 Asia Cup.