New Delhi: PR Sreejesh and Sushila Chanu were named captains of the Indian men’s hockey team and women’s hockey team, respectively, that will compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Sreejesh’s selection comes as a surprise as Sardar Singh, who has been the Indian captain over the past few years, is in the squad. Sardar was the captain in the 2012 London Olympics too.
Sreejesh led India to a historic silver medal at the recently-held Champions Trophy, in which Sardar did not play. He played a stellar role in leading India to their best finish in the 38-year-history of the tournament.
The team played a brilliant final where they held eventual champions Australia to a goalless draw in the regulation time before losing in a controversial shoot-out.
“Though I am the captain, there will be rotational captaincy. It has worked for the team in Champions Trophy. There will be three or four captains,” Sreejesh said. The 28-year-old from Tamil Nadu has played 156 international matches so far.
Playmaker SV Sunil has been named vice-captain of the team.
India finished last among 12 teams at the 2012 London Olympics. The five-time gold medal winners were the first team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics as they beat Pakistan in the 2014 Asian Games final, where Sreejesh helped India win in the penalty shoot-out.
Sushila’s moment of reckoning
Sushila was appointed the Indian women’s hockey team after Ritu Rani was dropped by the selectors due to poor form and attitude problems.
Indian women’s team qualified for the first time in Olympics after stellar show at the Hockey World League Semifinals in 2015. Their maiden and till now only appearance in the Olympics was in the 1980 Moscow edition, but there was no qualification process back then.