Rourkela: The steel city of Odisha is witnessing celebrations in the wake of Indian hockey's succes at the recently concluded Incheon Asian Games.
In the men's team Birendra Lakra, the versatile player of SAIL Hockey Academy Rourkela, again proved his mettle in the face of stiff competition.
In the final against Pakistan, Lakra scored the important goal in the newly formatted shoot-out system.
Besides, three girls of the Panposh Hockey Academy, Lilima Minz, Namita Toppo and Sunita Lakjra are part of the bronze winning team, which defeated Japan by a solitary goal. The other members Deepgresh Ekka, belongs to SAI Academy at Sundergarh.
Former player Michael Kindo was ecstatic about the achievement. "I am happy for Birendra, but it is a good omen for Indian Hockey," he said.
Explaining his observation Kindo said, "now the national team can prepare solely for the Rio Olympics and there will not be any deviation or distraction like qualifying".
"This is good for the country. And Birendra, he is simply the best, if you have seen the telecast of the matches, he was always at the right place doing the right thing, and what one can expect from this talented and versatile players."
Peter Tirky, coach at SAIL Academy, had no words to express his feelings. His voice choked for a while before he said, "whether my own Birendra or the four girls they all belong to hockey fraternity and what more I can I say as a coach or mentor. They are jewels and should be looked after properly."
Terming the victory as magical, Lakra said: "that was sheer a magical moment and we just went according to our game plan. Like in the penalty shootout, I just stuck to my basics and did not try anything new or daring during those eight seconds."
He added, "the victory has given us three things, a passage to Rio, a gold and a victory over our traditional rival Pakistan. Now we will concentrate on preparing for the Olympics and there will be no distraction."
The Sundergarh district administration has planned a felicitation ceremony tomorrow at the Panposh Hockey Aademy for Lakra and members of the women's team.