For the vice-captain’s role, Hockey India has chosen experienced defenders Birendra Lakra and Harmanpreet Singh who are also part of the team’s leadership group.
Expressing his gratitude on being named captain of the Olympic-bound Indian men’s team, Manpreet in an official release said: “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. It is a very proud moment for me to be given this charge. Over these past few years, we have developed a strong leadership group and have successfully overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic to not drop our form and keep our minds and fitness-focused towards doing well at the Olympics.”
Under Manpreet’s captaincy, the Indian team over the past four years has achieved important milestones including winning the Asia Cup in 2017, winning the Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 as well as winning the FIH Series Final in 2019.
The team led by Manpreet Singh 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 number four.
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 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.
Congratulating the three players, chief coach Graham Reid in an official release said, “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. Naming two vice-captains we believe will also strengthen our leadership in what is going to be a demanding tournament. We are confident that together they will guide the team to success.”
India will begin their campaign in Tokyo on July 24 when they take on New Zealand in their first Pool stage match.