Hockey India has recommended goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award while the experienced duo of Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and Akashdeep Singh and women’s team player Deepika have been recommended for the Arjuna Award.
Hockey India has also recommended R.P. Singh and Sandeep Kaur for the Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement while coaches Baljeet Singh, B.S. Chauhan and Romesh Pathania have been recommended for the Dronacharya Award.
Speaking on the recommendations, HI General Secretary Rajinder Singh said: “We are happy to endorse these current and former hockey players for the National Awards 2019.
“Over the course of their careers, as players and coaches respectively, these athletes have contributed immensely to Indian hockey. They have always stood out while performing for the nation and have taken the Indian team to great heights.
“It is with pride that they have donned the Indian colours, helping the team in achieving several successes across many years, and it is with pride and happiness that we, at Hockey India, recommend their names for the awards.”
Sreejesh from Kerala is considered as one of the best goalkeepers in world hockey. He has been an integral part of the Indian team since making his debut for the national team in 2006 at the South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. Over the course of his career, the 30-year-old has made over 200 appearances for the country, and has won several individual and collective accolades with the Indian team. After being awarded as the “Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament” at the 2008 Junior Asia Cup, Sreejesh was later also crowned as the “Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament” at the 2013 Asia Cup where India won the silver medal.
A stalwart in front of goal, he has represented the nation at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, but his best performances in the Indian colours came in 2014 when he was also nominated for the Best Male Goalkeeper of the Year award by FIH. He has won the Gold Medal at the 2014 Asian Games, Bronze Medal at the 2018 Asian Games, Silver Medals at the 2016 and 2018 editions of the FIH Champions Trophy. The ace goalkeeper has previously been awarded with the Arjuna Award in 2015 and the Padma Shri Award in 2017.
Chinglensana Singh Kangujam has performed exceptionally for the country at the highest level. He has been a part of the Indian team set-up since making his debut in 2011, and has gone on to play over 200 matches, winning various medals for the country including the silver at the 2013 Asia Cup, gold at the 2014 Asian Games, silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, gold at the 2017 Asia Cup, bronze at the 2017 FIH World League Final, along with silver at the 2018 Champions Trophy, bronze at the 2018 Asian Games, and gold at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
Akashdeep Singh’s ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates and himself makes him a danger man for the opponents, and the forward has been leading the Indian team in attack with his pace and vigour. The 24-year-old has played over 170 matches for the country since making his debut in 2012, and has won the gold Medal at the 2014 Asian Games. The forward has also been a part of the team which won the silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, bronze at the 2015 FIH World League Final, gold at the 2017 Asia Cup, bronze at the 2017 FIH World League Final, bronze at the 2018 Asian Games and the gold at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.
On the other hand, Indian women’s team defender Deepika has been in charge of the defensive duties for the past decade and a half. She hails from Yamunanagar, Haryana and has represented the Indian team at the FIH World Cup thrice, in 2006, 2010 and 2018 editions. The Defender has over 200 International caps to her name and has taken part in some important tournaments for the country including the gold medal win at the 2017 Asia Cup, which has seen her being awarded with the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year Award in 2016.