New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar, Oct 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi heaped praise on Odia hockey star Birendra Lakra, who recently announced his retirement from international hockey after playing 201 matches for the country.
In a recent letter to the Odia Olympian, the PM hailed Lakra as a “key part of a vital decade for Indian hockey.”
“You also continued the glorious tradition of Odisha of producing outstanding hockey players, particularly defenders. You began playing hockey at a time when no Indian could imagine our nation would win an Olympics medal in the near future. Hockey was not considered to be the most glamorous of sports. Yet, things changed so soon and the credit for such a positive transformation goes to players like you, who kept the faith and worked hard for the regeneration on Indian hockey,” the Prime minister said in the letter.
“One of the things the coming generation of athletes can learn from you is a spirit of resilience. One cannot imagine how you would have felt when you missed the bus to Rio due to an injury. You successfully overcame that and made it to Tokyo, and thus became a part of the history that was scripted there,” the PM said.
“It is remarkable how you have always remained humble despite scaling soaring heights of success. When I had met you, and the rest of the Tokyo 2020 contingent, I had urged you all to strengthen India’s Amrit Mahotsav by visiting various schools or colleges by August 2023,” the PM’s letter stated.
Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan lauded the Prime Minister for reaching out to players thereby developing a vibrant sporting culture in the country. Pradhan also mentioned Lakra as “one of the most versatile players to have represented India in Hockey.”