India on Thursday named eight Olympic debutants and as many veterans in its 16-member women’s hockey squad for the Tokyo Games to be held from July 23 to August 8.
The squad is a perfect mix of youth and experience and includes as many as eight players who had represented India in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Although, star striker Rani Rampal has been the captain of the side in the lead up to the Olympics, the national selectors are yet to name the leader of the Tokyo-bound team.
However, as per officials in the know how of developments, Rani is expected to lead the side in Tokyo but a confirmation is still awaited. The eight Olympic debutants include drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, Udita, Nisha, Neha, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Lalremsiami, the first player hailing from Mizoram in the team, and Salima Tete.
Tete had led the Indian team at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires to a silver medal performance.
The eight experienced players, who were part of the last Olympics, include Rani, goalkeeper Savita, Deep Grace Ekka, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Navjot Kaur and Vandana Katariya.
Looking forward to represent our country at @Tokyo2020 .Honoured to be part of the Indian team for the 2nd time in Olympics games 🇮🇳🏑#bharatkisherniya #tokyoolympics #blessed #RR28 #favouritejersey #indianteam #womenshockey pic.twitter.com/Jq5oDXp5tj— Rani Rampal (@imranirampal) June 17, 2021
These eight players have amassed a total experience of 1,492 caps between them.
The selected squad has just one goalkeeper in Savita, four defenders, six mid-fielders and five forwards.
This will be the Indian women’s hockey team’s third appearance at the Olympic Games and their second consecutive outing, with previous appearances coming in 1980 and 2016.
Since Rio 2016, the women’s team has been on a steady rise and won the Asian Champions Trophy that same year, the 2017 Asia Cup and silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
They also created history by entering the quarterfinals of the 2018 Women’s World Cup for the first time.
‘This team has worked very hard over the last few years and has made progress consistently. There is a good mix of experienced players and new talent, which is excellent,’ Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said.
‘We look forward to taking on the best in the world in Tokyo. This is a team with a lot of potential and drive which we hope to channelise our energies to give our best performance.’ Hockey India president Gyanendro Ningombam wished the selected players success and hoped for a fine show in Tokyo.
‘Over the past few years, leading up to this edition of the Olympics, the women’s team has worked very hard to achieve their current form. I am confident that this team will give a tough competition to any opponent. I wish them all the very best for their preparation and performance,’ he said.
The Indian women’s hockey team made history in 2016 Rio Games when it qualified for the Olympics after 36 long years.
The squad is currently preparing for the Games at the ongoing national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre here.
Squad: Goalkeeper: Savita Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan, Gurjit Kaur, Udita.
Midfielders: Nisha, Neha, Sushila Chanu Purkhrambam, Monika, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete.
Forwards: Rani Rampal, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya, Sharmila Devi. PTI