Hockey India, with much fanfare and buzz announced the team of Rio Olympics in a ceremony which included the likes of FIH president Leandro Negre, new Sports Minister Vijay Goel, BCCI president Anurag Thakur and BJP president Amit Shah along with legends of Indian hockey.
The team announcement ceremony reminded of one such same event which took place four years ago when Indian team left for London Olympics with same high hopes and fanfare. The team that played in London Olympics consisted of some big names like Sandeep Singh, Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandkar and Ignace Tirkey. The team’s performance in the London Olympics was a disaster as they finished in last place after failing to win a single game in the tournament.
The repercussion of poor performance was such that Hockey India laid down the stick and axed most of the senior players which played in the tournament. Let us take a look at what happened to the players who were part of the Indian team which played the London Olympics post the tournament.
Bharat Chetri: Bharat Chetri who captained the side in London Olympics was among the senior players to be sacked by Hockey India after team’s poor performance in the tournament and hasn’t played a single game for India since then. He was part of Jaypee Punjab Warriors squad for first three seasons but played little in the presence of Netherlands goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann. He currently, plays for his employers Canara Bank.
PR Sreejesh: After the sacking of Bharat Chetri, PR Sreejesh became India’s first choice goalkeeper and in four years since then, there has been no other goalkeeper who has challenged him for his place. Sreejesh whose performance earned him the tag of ‘The Great Wall of India’ and a road named after him in his hometown. His strong performance and leadership in recently concluded Champions Trophy forced Hockey India to give the captaincy band to Sreejesh for the Rio Olympics.
Sandeep Singh: India’s most lethal weapon for scoring goals before the London Olympics was also sacked as Hockey India decided to introduce the policy of ‘go young’. Since London Olympics, Sandeep has not featured for India. Despite staying out of the squad for a long time, he has not lost his goalscoring form as he is currently top scorer of Hockey India League with 35 goals in 4 seasons. With Indian team call still eluding him, Sandeep currently plays for Havant hockey club in UK
VR Raghunath: Was easily the worst players for India in London Olympics making many mistakes which led to opposition scoring goals against India but since the London Olympics, there has been a change in his fortunes as he became India’s most fearsome defender with his precision defense and goal scoring ability through penalty corners. He also served as vice-captain of the side in various tournaments and is expected to lead Indian defense in the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Ignace Tirkey: Despite his decent performance in the London Olympics, Ignace Tirkey was axed from the squad. He continued to play for Jaypee Punjab Warriors in Hockey India League for two seasons but post that he was dropped from the roster list. A member of Army XI hockey team, Ignace Tirkey also serves as vice president of Hockey Gangapur, one of the fastest growing hockey nurseries of India.