Indian Hockey: Birendra Lakra retires - A look at his title and achievements
Veteran Indian hockey team defender Birendra Lakra was one of the two members from the Tokyo 2020 bronze medal-winning squad, alongwith Rupinder Pal Singh, who called time on their career this week.
It was his second appearance at the Olympics after London 2012. He, incidentally, had missed out Rio 2016 due to a knee injury but made his Olympic return memorable with a podium finish with the national team.
The influential defender has had a stellar career that lasted for eleven years. Let us have a look at the titles and achievements in this span:
Titles and Achievements
Lakra took inspiration from three-time Olympian Dilip Tirkey as he regarded him as one of the greatest defenders to have donned the Indian national team jersey.
The 31-year-old, having made his debut at the 2010 South Asian Games, went on to become a mainstay in defence for the national team. He, in fact, competed in almost every major event which included the Olympics, World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games (CWG).
However, one of the most defining moments of his career came in the final game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament against France in 2012, where he scored for India and ensured them a spot at London 2012. He was also rock solid during the 2018 Champions Trophy, where the national team conceded only six goals in the group stage, including a clean sheet against arch-rivals Pakistan.
Moreover, the defender was a part of the national team's recent success at the Asian Games, when they won gold in 2014 and bronze in 2018. He also won the silver medal with the national team in 2013 Asia Cup, silver at 2014 Commonwealth Games (CWG), silver at 2018 Champions Trophy, double bronze medals at World League (2015 Raipur and 2015 Bhubaneswar) besides tasting success at the Asian Champions Trophy (gold in 2016, silver in 2012).
The Lachchada village-star is an inspiration for the younger generation.