Hockey: Defenders Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra announce their retirement from the sport
New Delhi, September 30, 2021
Two members of the Tokyo Olympic bronze medal-winning hockey team -- veteran drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and ace defender Birender Lakra --on Thursday announced their retirement from the sport.
Rupinder and Birender who called time on their career with the national team were hailed by Hockey India for their outstanding contribution to the sport in the country.
Rupinder, who made his international debut in 2010, played a pivotal role in India's bronze medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics. He scored four goals in the tournament and was the second-highest goal-scorer in the team.
Lakra, who stood tall in the defence line at the quadrennial Games, also achieved the milestone of completing 200 senior international caps for the national team.
Fondly called Bob by his teammates, Rupinder featured in India’s important feats in the past decade, which includes the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games, 2016 Asian Champions Trophy triumph, 2015 bronze medal-winning FIH Hockey World League Final, and 2017 bronze medal-winning FIH Hockey World League Final.
His Illustrious career included scoring the most number of goals in the 2013 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and 2016 Asian Champions Trophy. After a break in 2018-19, the lanky drag-flicker made a strong comeback in the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers and scored his first hat-trick since the 2018 Asian Games.
For over a decade Rupinder was a household name in Indian Hockey and his abilities to drag-flick made him very popular among fans globally.
"We wish him the very best as he begins a new chapter in his personal and professional life," stated Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam.
A product of SAIL Hockey Academy Rourkela, Lakra has represented India at the 2009 Youth Olympic Festival held in Sydney, the 2009 Junior World Cup, the 2010 SAAF Games in Dhaka, and the 2011 Champions Challenge tournament in South Africa.
Having progressed through the ranks of the junior team set-up, Lakra made his debut for the senior national team in the 2010 South Asian Games and has been part of the country's various memorable moments such as the 2014 Asian Games glory, bronze medal feat in the World League Final 2015 in Raipur, silver medal-winning campaign at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar 2019 triumph as well.
In his long-serving career, the two-time Olympian has featured in almost all the major tournaments, including the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup in 2014 and 2018.
However, he missed out on the Rio Olympics 2016 due to a knee injury and made a strong comeback to the Indian set-up by playing a pivotal role in the team's gold medal-winning feat at the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy.
“Birendra has for many years been an integral part of the Indian Team’s defence and he has given fans across the globe some very memorable performances. Hockey India wishes him the very best in his future endeavours" said Ningombam.