Indian hockey players and Olympic bronze medallists Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra announced retirement on Thursday.
Rupinder Pal Singh, 30, is a drag flicker who made his debut for the Indian hockey team in 2010 and has represented the nation in 223 matches scoring 119 goals.
Defender Birendra Lakra, 31, also made his international debut in 2010 and played 201 matches for the senior team. He was also the joint vice captain of India at Tokyo 2020.
“I believe it is time for me to make way for young and talented players to experience every great joy I have felt in these last 13 years of representing India,” Rupinder Pal Singh said on Twitter.
Rupinder helped India win the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 – their first Olympic medal in 41 years – and considers it to be his greatest achievement.
“Standing on the podium in Tokyo along with my team-mates with whom I have shared some of the most incredible experiences of my life was a feeling I will cherish forever.
“I am leaving the team feeling happy and content as we have conquered the greatest dream which was to win an Olympic medal for India.”
Rupinder Pal Singh scored four goals in the Tokyo Olympics, including a crucial penalty stroke in the third-place match against Germany.
Born in Faridkot, Punjab, Rupinder Pal Singh has made two Olympic appearances (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020) and had a decorated career, with medals at the Asian Games, Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Hockey World League.
Birendra Lakra, who hails from Odisha, has also won medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. He also participated in the London 2012 Olympics and the Hockey World Cup in 2014 and 2018. He missed out on Rio 2016 due to a knee injury.
“What a magnificent player Birendra has been for Indian hockey,” former India captain Viren Rasquinha mentioned on his Twitter page. “At his best, I would rate him right up there with the best defenders in world hockey. Calm temperament, clean tackling, great distribution - all hallmarks of a top defender. Thank you Biru.”