STATE TIMES NEWSJAMMU: With final preparations underway for the much-awaited Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, Hockey India has today announced the final list of players selected to represent the Indian Women’s Hockey Team at the summer showdown in Tokyo.The 16-member squad strikes the perfect balance between continuity from the Rio Olympics 2016, and adopting a fresh approach for Tokyo. Eight experienced veterans have been named in the squad, while eight new players have been handed the chance to make their Olympic debut for Team India.Speaking on the team selection, Chief Coach, Sjoerd Marijne said, “This team has worked very hard over the last few years and has made progress consistently. There’s a good mix of experienced players and new talent, which is excellent. 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 to our best performance yet.”Congratulating the selected squad, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, “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 at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games 2020.”The final squad includes eight stalwarts in Rani, Savita, Deep Grace Ekka, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Navjot Kaur and Vandana Katariya; who have had the experience of representing India at the historic appearance of the Indian women’s team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after a gap of 36 years. These eight players have amassed a mammoth total of 1,492 caps between them for Team India and will be tasked with leading the charge for Team India in their quest for Olympic glory.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. The Indian Women’s Hockey team have seen a steady rise over the past few years, clinching Olympic qualification for a historic second consecutive occasion on the back of their consistent performances in qualifying events. Since Rio 2016, the team has experienced the highs of winning the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Asia Cup, the Silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and making it to the Quarter Finals of the 2018 Women’s World Cup for the first time in history.The eight Olympic debutants include drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur, Udita, Nisha, Neha, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Lalremsiami – who is the first player hailing from Mizoram in the team and Salima Tete – who led the Indian team at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires to a silver medal performance, also joins the team destined for Tokyo.The Women’s Team, which made history in Rio in 2016 after making an Olympic appearance after a 36-year-long wait, will now be looking to make its mark in the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. This team took the disconcerting news of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics in its stride and used the additional year to solidify their preparation for the Summer Games, as they bid to become the first Indian Women’s Hockey team to win an Olympic medal. The team has left no stone unturned in their preparation for the year’s showpiece event, with challenging tours to Germany and Argentina in the early part of 2021 proving to be an ideal preparation against world class competition. A high intensity National Camp following the international tours has put the team in good stead ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.The team continues preparations at the ongoing camp at SAI Centre Bengaluru with the games taking place from 23rd July to 6th August in Tokyo.SELECTED PLAYERS: Goalkeeper: Savita. Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nikki Pradhan, Gurjit Kaur and Udita. Midfielders: Nisha, Neha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Navjot Kaur, Salima Tete. Forwards: Rani, Navneet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Vandana Katariya and Sharmila Devi.
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