Internal competition keeping us on our toes before Tokyo Olympics: India men’s defender Birendra Lakra

Birenda Lakra is determined to make the India squad for Tokyo Olympics. (Source: HI)
Birenda Lakra is determined to make the India squad for Tokyo Olympics. (Source: HI)

Indian men’s hockey defender Birendra Lakra has urged his teammates not to take their places in the team for granted ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. He also desired to make the Tokyo Olympics cut after missing the bus in the last edition due to an injury.

The Indians have been on a roll since the start of the year. The Men in Blue had an unbeaten European tour, which included a 6-1 hammering of Germany. Post that, the Manpreet Singh-led side toured Argentina for two FIH Pro League matches that they also won. India played four practice games on the tour too, losing just once.

Lakra, who is just four shy of 200 matches for India, felt that despite being a senior, his place in the side is also not guaranteed. He stated that there is a lot of competition for places in the side and that is what is keeping every individual on their toes.

“Even though I am one of the most experienced players in the Indian side, my place in the team is not guaranteed. There is a lot of competition for each of the positions and that is what keeps all of us on our toes,” said Lakra, who was a member of the 2014 Asian Games-winning Indian side.
“Everyone is determined to play and perform for India and therefore all of us make sure that we are giving everything we have during every practice session. Apart from skill development, we also make sure that we are giving enough attention to our fitness regimes as well,” added Lakra.

Lakra putting in hard yards ahead of Tokyo Olympics

One of the members of India’s 2012 London Olympic squad, Lakra missed out on the Rio flight due to a knee injury. At 31, Lakra has been working as hard as any other junior in the side and is determined to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics.

“It was really hard time for me in 2016 when I missed out on the chance of representing India in the Rio Olympics. After my recovery, my sole goal has been to ensure that I am fit and absolutely ready for the Tokyo Olympics,” he continued.

Much has changed in the past five years, with Lakra emerging as one of the vital cogs in the Indian side. His presence on the field makes a lot of difference and having Lakra in the Indian squad will benefit head coach Graham Reid.

“I have worked very hard on my game in the last five years, and I am very determined to make it to the Indian squad for the Tokyo Olympics. I am ensuring that I am playing at my absolute best during practice and giving my 100 percent in every training session,” he said.

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Edited by Nikhil Vinod
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