It remains to be seen whether the Indian women's hockey team can put a good show at the prestigious Games in absence of their most experienced player.
New Delhi: Hockey continues to stay relevant in India, thanks to its past records. Despite the harrowing displays from the national teams, it still is the National Game of India.
And for the first time, in a long long time, both the men's and women's team will play in the Olympics. But Indian hockey's moment of reckoning has got it's share of blot too.
Ritu Rani, the most recognisable female hockey player, got the boot ahead of the Rio Games. The reason: attitude and fitness issues!
It's strange though, if one has to consider the fact that the 24-year-old was the driving force – as the captain of the team – behind India's Olympic qualification.
The talented midfielder from Haryana was pivotal in many other international triumphs for India.
However, 10 months after helping India earn a ticket to Rio, she found herself out of the squad.
India may well find the services of a player who has 213 caps.
If her exclusion was based on fitness and attitude, then the story is different for Sardar Singh. The former India captain was retained despite being accused of rape.
The captaincy band for men's team was given to the inspirational goal-keeper PR Sreejesh earlier this month.
But the inclusion of Sardar Singh in the Rio-bound squad warrants a proper analysis. The 30-year-old has been going through a torrid time both on and off the field.
He was even rested for the Champions Trophy, and subsequent tourneys. And the reason for relieving him off captaincy was purportedly done to improve the midfielder's game.
Here, what's embarrassing for the Indian hockey is that, a champion performer like Ritu was dropped for disputed disciplinary and fitness issues, while an out of form and a rape accused got the ticket to Rio.
Besides the rape controversy, the Punjab player has had run-ins with hockey authorities. In 2011, he along with Sandeep Singh walked out of the national camp, and were subsequently charged with indiscipline and handed two-year bans.
But apologies did the trick. And he was back as the captain of the national team.
Now, what about the former captain of the women's team, who has had no such cases?
It remains to be seen whether the Indian colts can put a good show at the prestigious Games in absence of their most experienced player.