Indian men’s hockey team finishes with a heroic victory, wins medal after four decade drought
The Indian Men’s Hockey team winning the Bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics has restored belief and instilled hopes as it comes after 41 years. The last time the Hockey team won a medal was in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, if we look back it was when Prakash Padukone in Badminton became the first Indian to win the All England Championship, it was when Bjorn Borg won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title and it was when the US led the boycott in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The Indian Hockey team made its debut in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics winning the gold and has participated in every Olympic Games except the 2008 Beijing as they failed to qualify for the first time. They have consecutively finished in the top three from the 1928 Olympics to the 1972 Munich Olympics. They have won Gold medals in the Olympics from 1928 to 1956, 1964 and the final one in 1980. They are the most successful Hockey team at the Olympics with a total of 8 Golds, 1 Silver and three Bronze medals.
They are the first medal winners for independent India at the Olympics, the game gave the world a sporting icon that is Major Dhyanchand known as the “Hockey Wizard” as he led India to three continuous Olympic Gold medals. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics it is said that Adolf Hitler was so awestruck by Dhyanchand that he was offered a German citizenship which he refused. His influence in the game is unmatched and is still one of the greatest sportsmen the world has seen. The game does not lack any legacy or legends as it is the sport which first gave us international fame and recognition. Players like Balbir Singh Dosanjh, Kunwar Digvijay Singh, Kishan Lal, Jaipal Singh Munda, Leslie Claudius, Udham Singh have brought us international accolades as well as Olympic trophies.
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After the 1980 Moscow Olympics, it was the downfall of Indian Hockey as for almost 15 years they failed to make it big in the Olympics as well as the World Cups. They were on top in Asia but lost International dominance. They won Bronze medals in the 1986 Asian Games and the 1982 Champions Trophy. It was not until the late 90’s that they slowly started making a comeback as they won the 1998 Asian Games, they also won the inaugural Men's Hockey Champions Challenge I by defeating South Africa in the Final.
But things started falling again as they failed to win a medal in the 2006 Asian Games for the first time, in 2007 they fell to their lowest ranking at 12 and did not qualify for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. In the 2012 London Olympic games they finished last as they lost all their matches. They got back to their winning form when they won the bronze in the 2014-2015 Hockey World League and also won the 2016-2017 Asia cup. They were still unable to make a mark in the Olympics as they finished 8th in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
They have finally secured an Olympic medal in Tokyo as they will look to create more records in Hockey. They have the most victories as they have won 83 matches out of 134 in the Olympics. They also are the only team to win the Gold without conceding a single goal as they did in the 1928 and 1956 Olympics.
In the Tokyo Olympics they were placed in pool A alongside Australia and Argentina. They only lost to Australia in the 5 pool matches played. In the quarterfinals they defeated Great Britain and in the semifinals lost to eventual champions Belgium. In the Bronze medal playoff against Germany there was enormous pressure on the team as they were in desperate need of a victory which would end a long wait for a medal and provide a much needed morale boost to the team. The players held onto their nerves and bravely fought to win the Bronze medal. Harmanpreet Singh in his second Olympics finished as the leading scorer for his team as he finished with 6 Penalty corner goals and Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh also saved in the final moments of the game to confirm the victory for India. Captain Manpreet Singh the most experienced man on the squad will be honoured to have led a young side into one of the greatest moments in Indian olympic history. The victory resulted in another milestone for sports as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award has been renamed as Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and is quite fitting to the man who was truly “the magician” with a hockey stick.
The 91m turf will see more records broken, but before that it's important to savour this victory and rejoice as the country will welcome back all the heroes with pride in their hearts.
National sports awards selection process to be delayed to include Olympic medallists
New Delhi, Jul 12 (Olympics news) The process of picking this year's national sports awards winners is set to be postponed until after the Olympic Games to ensure that medal winners in Tokyo are duly considered by the selection panel, which is yet to be instituted.
The awards are given away each year by the country's president on August 29, the National Sports Day which is also the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand. The Olympics will run from July 23 to August 8.
"We have already received nominations for this year's National Sports Awards. The dates of nominations are closed as of now. But in our last meeting we have discussed about including Olympic medallist, if any, for consideration in this year's awards," a sports ministry source told PTI.
"The Olympic ends on August 8 so the process for selection of awardees might get delayed," he added.
The ceremony itself could also be delayed if the selection panel is unable to finalise names of the awardees within 10 days of the Games' end.
"We will take a final call on this issue soon. We are planning to have another meeting just after Olympics to decide on this. If any of our athletes win an Olympic medal, he or she will definitely be considered.
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"If we can conduct the meeting within a week or 10 days after the Olympics, then the awards will given on August 29 otherwise it might be postponed by a few days," the source said.
More than 120 Indian athletes would be vying for medals at the Games amid strict health safety protocols because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Games will be held without any spectators.
The process of nominations for the national honours ended on July 5 after two extensions.
The applicants were allowed to self-nominate online in view of the pandemic but national federations have also sent their preferences.
The prize money for these awards was increased substantially last year.
So, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award now comes with a reward of Rs 25 lakh, much higher than the previous amount of Rs 7.5 lakh.
The cash reward for Arjuna award has been enhanced to Rs 15 lakh from Rs 5 lakh, the Dhronacharya (Lifetime) awardees, who were earlier given Rs 5 lakh, are now being given Rs 15 lakh.
Dhronacharya (Regular) get Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh per awardee, while Dhyanchand Awardees are being given Rs 10 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakh.
Last year, the award ceremony was held virtually because of the pandemic.
News source: PTI
Odisha govt recommends para shuttler Pramod Bhagat for Khel Ratna
New Delhi, Jul 6 (Sports news) Indian para shuttler Pramod Bhagat, who has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics, has been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country's highest sporting honour, by the Odisha government.
The department of sports and youth services (DSYS) of Odisha has also recommended the Indian women's hockey team vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka for the Arjuna Award.
"DSYS has recommended the names of #Odia para shuttler @PramodBhagat83 and current @TheHockeyIndia's vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Arjuna Award respectively, for the year 2021," the department tweeted.
Bhagat, currently ranked no 1 in SL3 category, was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2019. He had won 12 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals in 2019, including the World Championship title.
At the Dubai Para Badminton tournament early this year, Bhagat had claimed two golds and a bronze medal and remains hopeful of a medal at the Tokyo Paralympics, where badminton is being introduced for the first time.
Ekka, 27, on the other hand, has 150 international caps and is a vital cog in Indian women's hockey team. She was part of the silver-medal winning Indian side in 2018 Asian Games.
Also read: Olympic-bound shuttler B Sai Praneeth nominated for Khel Ratna with K Srikanth
News source: PTI
Olympic-bound shuttler B Sai Praneeth nominated for Khel Ratna with K Srikanth
In sports news, New Delhi, Jul 1, Olympic-bound shuttler B Sai Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth have been nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the Badminton Association of India, which has also recommended three players for the Arjuna award.
Praneeth, who won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championship, is the only men's singles shuttler to have qualified for the Tokyo Games.
Srikanth has been struggling of late but won four titles in 2017.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) nominated HS Prannoy, Pranav Jerry Chopra and Sameer Verma for the Arjuna honour.
The federation also sent applications of S Muralidharan and PU Bhaskar Babu for the Dronacharya award.
Muralidharan is already a recipient of Dronacharya Life Time achievement award.
Leroy D'sa and PVV Lakshmi have been nominated for the Dhyanchand award.
News source: PTI
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra nominated for Khel Ratna by Athletics Federation of India
New Delhi, Jun 30 (Sports news) Olympic-bound star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
The 23-year-old Chopra's nomination came after sprinter Dutee Chand was recommended for the same top award by the Odisha government.
This is the fourth time Chopra is being recommended for the Khel Ratna since 2018.
"Neeraj has been recommended by the awards committee for the Khel Ratna this year," an official source told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Chopra has already been conferred with the Arjuna Award in 2018 after winning a gold in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. In that year, he was also recommended for the Khel Ratna.
He was again recommended for the Khel Ratna in 2019 after winning gold in the 2018 Asian Games.
Last year also, he was recommended for the top honour.
Chopra, who had qualified for Tokyo Olympics in January 2020 in South Africa, is currently in Europe, preparing for Tokyo Olympics.
He has taken part in three events -- in Portugal, Sweden and Finland -- since June 10.
He was to compete in an event in Switzerland on Tuesday but pulled out of it to give his body enough time to rest after a lot of travel.
He is expected to take part in the Gateshead (England) Diamond League on July 13. That would be Chopra's biggest event before the Olympics, which opens on July 23.
Chopra had won bronze in Kuortane Games in Finland on Saturday last with an effort of 86.79m, behind season-leader and 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter (93.59m) and 2012 Olympics gold medallist and 2016 Games bronze winner Keshorn Walcott (89.12m).
That was Chopra's third best performance this season since re-writing his own national record during the Indian Grand Prix 3 with a throw of 88.07m in March at the NIS Patiala. A few days later, he had thrown 87.80m during the Federation Cup at the same venue. News source: PTI
Indian Golf Union recommends Shubhankar Sharma for Khel Ratna Award
In Sports news, New Delhi, Jun 30, Two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma has been recommended for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, country's highest sporting honour, by the sport's governing body Indian Golf Union.
The national body also recommended Udayan Mane, Rashid Khan and Diksha Dagar for the Arjuna award.
"We sent the letter to the ministry a couple weeks back, nominating Udayan Mane, Rashid Khan and Diksha Dagar for Arjuna and Shubhankar Sharma for the Khel Ratna," an IGU official told PTI on condition of anonymity. The 24-year-old Sharma had become the youngest Indian winner on the European Tour when he claimed the Joburg Open title in December, 2017. He followed it with a win at the Maybank Championship in February, 2018.
Sharma was the first Indian to win the European Tour's Rookie of the year award in 2018. He also won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2018 at the age of 22.
He has also represented the country in five Majors — Masters, US Open, The Open Championship (twice) and the PGA Championship.
Among the nominees for Arjuna, Mane has made the cut for the Tokyo Olympics following the withdrawal of Emiliano Grillo of Argentina. His entry, however, will be confirmed on July 6 by the International Golf Federation.
Young Diksha is a winner of silver medal at the 2017 Deaflympics. She had represented India at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and also won on the Ladies European Tour in her rookie year in 2019 when she claimed the South African Open.
Diksha, who finished fourth at Czech Ladies Open last week, was in the running for the Tokyo Games before the pandemic. She is currently at the fifth place in the reserve list and will need a lot of permutation and combinations to make the cut.
Two-time Asian Tour winner, Rashid was the highest-ranked Indian golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) at the 180th spot before COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill last year.
Mane pipped him in the race to Tokyo, emerging as the top-ranked Indian after claiming the Delhi-NCR Open Golf championship title in March this year.
Aditi Ashok, who has qualified for Tokyo Olympics, was conferred with the Arjuna last year. News source: PTI
Table Tennis Federation of India recommends Sharath Kamal for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
New Delhi, Jun 30 (Sports news) India's finest table tennis player Sharath Kamal has been recommended for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the sport's governing body TTFI.
Kamal, who is set to compete in his fourth Olympics, had become the first Indian paddler to get the Padma Shri in 2019.
The world number 32 is a multiple-time gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games but his bigger achievement is being part of the bronze-winning team at the 2018 Asian Games, ensuring India's first ever table tennis medal in the continental event.
He had also won a mixed doubles bronze alongside Manika Batra to cap off a dream campaign at the Asian Games three years ago. The much younger Batra had become the first table tennis player to receive the Khel Ratna last year.
"He is a deserving candidate for Khel Ratna. Hope he gets his due," TTFI advisor MP Singh told PTI.
Kamal's former teammate turned coach Soumyadeep Roy has been nominated for the Dronacharya Award.
The nominations for the Arjuna Award include the name of Olympic-bound Sutirtha Mukherjee. The others recommended for Arjuna are Ayhika Mukherjee and Manav Thakkar.
The national sports awards are given away every year on August 29 to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand as the National Sports Day.
Besides recommendations from the national federations, athletes can also nominate themselves through online applications. The last date for submission is July 5. News source: PTI
NRAI recommends Anjum Moudgil, Ankur Mittal for Khel Ratna
New Delhi, Jun 30 Double Trap world champion Ankur Mittal and Olympic-bound rifle shooter Anjum Moudgil were on Wednesday recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the National Rifles Association of India (NRAI).
Mittal won his double trap world title in 2018 and got the Arjuna award the same year. Moudgil is a world championship silver-medallist, also from the 2018 edition and she was awarded the Arjuna in 2019.
"The two had also been recommended in the same category last year," the NRAI said in a statement.
For the Arjuna awards, the NRAI has recommended the Olympic-bound duo of Elavenil Valarivan and Abhishek Verma. While Valarivan is world number one in women's 10m air rifle, Verma holds the top position in men's 10m air pistol.
Also in contention for the national honour is 50m pistol world champion Om Prakash Mitherval.
There were no recommendations in the Dronacharya awards category this year from the NRAI.
The national sports awards are given away every year on August 29 to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand as the National Sports Day.
Besides recommendations from the national federations, athletes can also nominate themselves through online applications. The last date for submission is July 5. News source : PTI
Sprinter, Dutee Chand nominated by the Odisha govt. for Gandhi Khel Ratna
In sports news, Bhubaneswar, Jun 29, Odisha government on Tuesday nominated ace sprinter Dutee Chand for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country's highest sporting honour.
Apart from Dutee, the Odisha government also sent five other recommendations to the sports ministry, said an official here.
"I'm thankful to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik for nominating my name for the Khel Ratna Award. May your blessing always be upon me," Dutee said on Twitter.
The Indian sprint ace broke her own 100m national record, clocking 11.7 seconds at the Indian Grand Prix 4 in Patiala last week to miss the automatic Olympic qualification time by 0.02 seconds.
She is, however, set to make it to the Tokyo Olympics on the basis of world rankings.
The 25-year-old Dutee, who won a silver each in the 100m and 200m events in the 2018 Asian Games, was conferred with the Arjuna Award last year.
The Sports and Youth Services Department of Odisha government has also nominated Olympic-bound Indian hockey vice-captain Birendra Lakra (Arjuna Award), hockey coach Kalu Charan Choudhury (Dronacharya) and former sprinter and Olympian Anuradha Biswal (Dhyan Chand) for National Sports Awards.
The state government also nominated KIIT Deemed University and Odisha Mining Corporation for Rashtriya Khel Prostahan Puraskar for identifying and nurturing budding talents in the region. News Source: PTI
Hockey India nominates PR Sreejesh, Deepika for Khel Ratna; Harmanpreet Singh for Arjuna award
New Delhi, Jun 26 Veteran India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and former women's team player Deepika were on Saturday nominated by Hockey India for this year's prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Besides the duo, vice-captain of India's Tokyo Olympics-bound men's team Harmanpreet Singh and women's team members Vandana Katariya and Navjot Kaur were nominated for the Arjuna awards.
The national federation also nominated RP Singh and Ch Sanggai Ibemhal for the Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement, while coaches BJ Kariappa and CR Kumar were recommended for the Dronacharya Award.
According to a statement issued by HI, the period of consideration for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is between January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2020.
During that period, the 35-year-old Sreejesh, who will be playing in his third Olympics and probably last, has played a key role in India's silver medal win at the 2018 Hockey Champions Trophy in Breda, bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games and gold at the 2019 FIH Men's Series Finals in Bhubaneswar.
Sreejesh has received the Arjuna award in 2015 and the prestigious Padma Shri recognition in 2017.
Deepika, on the other hand, was a vital part of the Indian women's hockey team, which won the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
Dragflick sensation Harmanpreet has over 100 international caps while Vandana has over 200 international caps. Navjot boasts of over 150 international appearences.
Speaking about the recommendations for the National Sports Awards, HI president Gyanendro Ningombam said, "It was a very proud moment for all of us when Rani won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award last year and it is with great pride that we are recommending two of the finest hockey players the country has seen -- PR Sreejesh and Deepika -- for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award this year.
"We are also happy to nominate Harmanpreet Singh, Vandana Katariya and Navjot Kaur for the Arjuna Awards. They have produced some exceptional performances for the Indian team in the last few years." The National Sports Awards are given to the country's sportsperons by the President of India on the occasion of National Sports Day on August 29 every year to celebrate hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand's birthday.
All the prizes carry a trophy along with a citation and cash rewards. News source PTI