Name: Sreejesh Ravindran
Age: 28 years
Event: Men’s Hockey
About PR Sreejesh
In 2015, the International Hockey Federation’s goalkeeper of the year, Holland’s Jaap Stockmann said Sreejesh is among the Top 5 hockey custodians in the world. That’s the reputation that the 28-year old has built over the years.
On Sunday, as the Indian Men’s hockey team left for Rio, Sreejesh made India a promise, saying, “We will never let you down. We will do our best to achieve something from Rio, that’s for sure.”
India might not have won an Olympic medal in hockey in 36 years, but this time they go into the Games as the Champions Trophy silver medallists, their best performance in a world event since the 1980 Olympics. And it was Sreejesh who captained India to that medal, with former captain Sardar Singh being rested for that tournament. Sreejesh had told NDTV earlier, “The crucial things we will have to sharpen are penalty corner conversions and goals from penalty corners. If we can polish these things there will be glory for us.”
Since making his international debut in 2006, Sreejesh has been part of the Indian squads that won the 2014 Commonwealth Games silver, the Asian Games gold in the same year and the 2015 Hockey World League bronze medal. In 2014 he was nominated for FIH’s award for the best male goalkeeper.
In fact after India’s 2014 Asian Games gold medal winning performance, where Sreejesh was the hero of the penalty shootout vs Pakistan in the final, the Kerala Govt named a street after him in his native village. After all, it was India’s first Asian Games title since 1998.
Off the field, Sreejesh is also known for his great sense of humour. And he always has an anecdote to share. Like when he met MS Dhoni for the first time. Sreejesh told NDTV, “Literally I started shivering. I said, I’m going to meet MS Dhoni, he’s the captain, the coolest guy. He (MS Dhoni) said one of my friends, he got hit very badly and he was bleeding. I got scared, stopped playing hockey and I trurned to football. I said, thank you, because if you would have played hockey you must have been a goal-keeper and then would have taken my place.”
PR Sreejesh. Will he be the first Indian hockey captain since 1980 to win an Olympic medal?