The Indian Men's Hockey team's third Pool match against Spain at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 saw veteran defender Birendra Lakra achieve the milestone of completing 200 Senior International Caps for the National team.
Currently the joint Vice-Captain along with drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Lakra made his debut for the senior national team in the 2010 South Asian Games and has been part of India's various memorable moments such as the 2014 Asian Games glory, Bronze Medal feat in the World League Final 2015 in Raipur and Silver Medal-winning campaign at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He was also part of the Indian team that won the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019.
A product of SAIL Hockey Academy Rourkela, Lakra progressed through the ranks of the junior team set-up where he represented India at the 5th Australian Youth Olympic Festival held at Sydney in 2009, 2009 Junior World Cup in Singapore & Malaysia, 2010 SAAF Games in Dhaka and 2011 Champions Challenge tournament in South Africa.
The 31-year-old defender, who has been one of the vital cogs in the Indian defence, also featured in the marquee events such as the 2012 Olympic Games as well as the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup in 2014 and 2018 respectively. Lakra, however, missed out on the Rio Olympics 2016 due to a knee injury and made a strong comeback after eight-month hiatus during the Indian team’s victorious 2016 Asian Champions Trophy campaign where they beat Pakistan in the Final.
"It gives me immense joy and satisfaction to be getting a chance to play my 200th international match for India in an event like the Olympics. I couldn't have achieved this feat without my teammates, family, and Hockey India's support. I would like to thank each and everyone involved in this wonderful journey and I want to continue to give my best to the team and make proud fans back home by finishing at the podium," expressed Birendra ahead of Team India's third match against Spain.
Congratulating the veteran defender, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, "I would like to congratulate Birendra Lakra on completing 200 International Caps for the country. Achieving this feat in a prestigious event like the Olympics is extra special and we at Hockey India are extremely delighted for Birendra's achievement. Being one of the most experienced players, he is a figure of inspiration for his teammates and he always gives his best in matches of all levels. We wish him and the Indian team all the very best for the remaining matches of the Tokyo Olympics, and we hope to see him bringing the glory home with the Indian team."