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Rio Olympics 2016: Birendra Lakra stays positive despite injury-induced Olympic absence

Lakra was forced to give Olympics a miss after failing to fully recover from a nagging knee injury.

Birendra Lakra
Birendra Lakra

Injuries are something no sportsperson have control over. It’s all part of the ‘package’ of being an athlete. Take the case of talented Indian men hockey midfielder Birendra Lakra, who was forced to give the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics a miss, after failing to fully recover from a nagging knee injury.

Lakra sustained an injury on his right knee during a 2016 Coal India Hockey India League match against Dabang Mumbai, and was consigned to the sidelines. The 26-year-old medio, who also doubles up a fullback these days, missed the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the Champions Trophy but he rekindled hopes of a national comeback when he was included in the team for the Six Nation Invitational Tourney in Valencia, Spain.

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“What can you do with injuries? Every sportsman has to accept such injury realities and move on. I played in all the games in Valencia, though not for a lengthy period and felt that I was nowhere close to my peak fitness.

“After the team returned to India, my coach called me to tell me that I won’t be playing in the Rio Olympics as I was not fully fit to handle the pressures of Olympics and I fully agreed with his views,” Lakra says in an informal chat.

The 26-year-old BPCL employee, who has made 120 international appearances, has taken it in the right spirit of not being fit to make his second Olympic appearance. “I’m just doing the rehab programme prescribed by our physio, which involves two hours of training in the morning and evening,” he quips.

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The Ranchi Rays player is upbeat about returning to the national side soon. “I think it will take two months for me to reach peak fitness. I will give my best and hopefully play in India’s next international assignment after the Olympics,” he oozes confidence.

The suave, soft-spoken midfielder, who is very highly rated, expects nothing but the best from the Sreejesh-led team. “India have been doing well in last two-three years – we have beaten all top teams and the way we are shaping up I have no doubts that my team will perform well in Rio,” gushes Birendra, who got engaged to Bengaluru-based Rashmita Kerketta earlier this year.

The 2016 Asian Champions Trophy slated to be held in Malaysia in October, could be Lakra’s comeback tournament.

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