Tokyo 2020: A Look at Athletes From Odisha in the Olympics
After a delay of one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are finally going to kick off in less than a week. The world’s biggest sporting extravaganza will be held under a state of emergency without the presence of any spectators in the stadium. But none of the restrictions will take away the shine and the excitement of sports lovers across the globe, who are waiting for the Olympics to begin.
For people in Odisha, this is a moment of great joy as five of the sportspersons from the state will be representing India at the Olympic Games. Here’s all that you need to know about the sports stars from Odisha:
Arguably, Dutee Chand is synonymous with Odisha sports now. An international name in track and field, Dutee has carved a niche for herself despite controversies surrounding her personal and professional life. This is her second Olympics after Rio 2016. In Tokyo, Dutee Chand will be competing in the 100m and 200m dash. For now, the student of KIIT Deemed to be University has her eyes set on the semifinal.
The four other selections for the Olympics are from field hockey – two each from the men’s and women’s teams.
In the Tokyo Olympics, Birendra Lakra will co-assist skipper Manpreet Singh as the Vice-Captain of the team. The team will depend a lot on his experience as they face formidable opponents in Tokyo. Birendra had played six matches in the 2012 London Olympics and has 197 international caps to his credit.
Joining Birendra Lakra in defence will be his fellow state-mate Amit Rohidas, who hails from Saunamara village in Odisha’s Sundargarh district. This will be Amit’s first Olympics and he is the first non-tribal Olympian from Odisha.
Deep Grace Ekka
Another star player from Sundargarh, Deep Grace Ekka will be playing her second consecutive Olympics at Tokyo. She made her international debut in 2011 and has been a regular in the team since then.
Namita’s name was a surprise exclusion from the initial list of players. Her name was a late inclusion as the International Olympic Committee decided to allow ‘two alternate players’ in each team. Though the midfielder will be a part of the Indian contingent, she can only participate if any player is injured or permanently ruled out of the game.
Besides these five names, para-badminton player Pramod Bhagat from Odisha will also take part in the Paralympics.