Sandeep Singh: Fastest drag-flicker, a penalty corner specialist and the Soorma of Indian Hockey
Goosebumps! The blood was gushing 50% faster than its usual rate. Almost teary! Imagine, if a trailer from reel life can do this to you, what the real life will be capable of?
Those two minutes and 49 seconds, where the life of a “Soorma” was weaved frame by frame, left a lasting impression on me.
The editing team has put a very conscious effort to carefully put every emotion in front of the viewers, and the ‘drag-flicker’ must be proud of the honour he has been given.
Sandeep Singh made his debut in 2004 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (Kuala Lumpur) and made his presence felt in the 2010 Commonwealth games (India) with five goals to his name.
The man became a sensation as India won the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament (2009) defeating Malaysia, after a yawning gap of thirteen (13) years. He was the captain of the national team and emerged as the highest goal scorer of the tournament.
India tasted another big success, when they qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, after a gap of eight years. India defeated France in the finals of Olympic qualifiers when Sandeep scored five goals and the final scoreline read 8-1 in India’s favour.
India routed team France and Sandeep scored all his goals through penalty corners, proving again that he is the best in business when it comes to scoring through a drag-flick. Singh again came up as the highest goal scorer of the tournament with 16 goals to his name.
Best known for his ability to successfully convert penalty corners, Singh is often termed as ‘flicker Singh’. He is arguably the best Indian flicker after Prithipal Singh, a.k.a. ‘King of short corner’ and stands tall with best drag-flickers of his generation, including Chris Cirello (Australia), Mink Van Der Weerden (Netherlands) and Gonzalo Peillat from Argentina.
Sandeep is well-known for his speed while hitting the ball during such shots. As per records, the fastest drag flick ever recorded came from the stick of our Soorma in 2010 with a speed of 145Km/H or 90 Miles/H.
The success that Sandeep tasted early in his career came to a halt when he was accidentally hit by a bullet.
He was travelling in a train to join rest of his team for 2006 World cup (Germany) preparations. Singh’s lowest rib was fractured, his pancreas was punctured and there was some damage to kidneys and liver.
The force of the gunshot was enormous and as a result, his backbone was flaked too. Such was the extent of damage that he was almost on the verge of being paralyzed for life.
The near-fatal injury was enough to ruin anybody’s career, but the lad from the ‘land of warriors’ made a fairytale comeback, shattering all speculations. Just after three years of the gruesome injury, he was made the captain of the Indian National hockey team and the ‘Soorma’ did deliver with a much-awaited title win in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The grit and courage shown by the ace drag-flicker are worth emulating for the generations to come. He has remained an unsung hero for nearly a decade and now is the time we realize the importance of his contribution to hockey and the way a sportsman can become an example for everybody to follow.