Tokyo stars Rupinder & Lakra retire
Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and defender Birendra Lakra, who played starring roles in the Indian hockey team’s bronze medal-winning Tokyo Olympics campaign, on Thursday announced their international retirements within hours of each other.
While Rupinder quit “to make way for youngsters” and announced his decision by posting a statement on his Twitter page, Lakra’s retirement was confirmed by Hockey India.
It has been learnt from reliable sources that both the players decided to quit after they were informed that they will not find a place in India’s scheme of things going forward and will be ignored for the national camp that starts in Bangalore next week.
The 30-year-old Rupinder, regarded as one of the best drag-flickers of the country, represented India in 223 matches.
“The past couple of months have undoubtedly been the best days of my life. Standing on the podium in Tokyo along with my teammates with whom I have shared some of the most incredible experiences of my life was a feeling I will cherish forever,” Rupinder wrote in a statement on his official Twitter handle.
“I believe it is time for me to make way for young and talented players to experience every great joy that I have felt in these last 13 years of representing India.
“I have had the honour of wearing the India jersey in 223 matches and each match was special,” he wrote.
According to sources, Rupinder wanted to continue till next year’s Asian Games.
Hours later, Lakra followed suit with Hockey India officially announcing his retirement. The player is, however, yet to make a statement of his own on the matter.