Rupinder Pal Singh, who was a vital figure in India’s historic bronze-medal-winning Olympic campaign in Tokyo, announced his international retirement on Thursday with immediate effect “to make way for younger players.” The 30-year-old, who is regarded as one of India’s top drag-flickers, has played in 223 matches for the country.
About the Olympic Medalist
Rupinder, known as ‘Bob,’ scored four key goals in India’s bronze-medal winning effort in Tokyo, including a penalty stroke in the third-place match against Germany. Given his health and form, he had a few more years remaining in the game, the choice came as a shock.
Rupinder became a critical cog in India’s backline soon after making his international debut in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh in May 2010 and created a dangerous drag-flick combo with VR Raghunath.
Rupinder was the ‘go-to man for any skipper for penalty corners and spot situations, aside from his brave defending. In penalty corner scenarios, Rupinder’s well-built physique and tall frame were a scary sight for any team’s defence. He was also noted for his inventiveness.
In 2014, he was named vice-captain of India’s World Cup team, as well as a member of the Commonwealth Games silver-medal-winning team. Rupinder has two Asian Games medals: a gold in 2014 in Incheon and a bronze in 2018 in Jakarta.
However, after the Asian Games debacle, he became one of the scapegoats, as he was largely overlooked in the team’s redesign. Injuries didn’t help his cause in between, as a hamstring ailment nearly ruined his career in 2017, which he once called his “toughest phase.”
Rupinder Singh’s six-month injury layoff benefited Harmanpreet Singh the most, but after his triumphant return, the two became India’s trump cards from short corners, and their duo lasted till Tokyo.
His Retirement from the Team
Rupinder announced his retirement on Twitter on Thursday. He wrote: “I would like to inform you about my decision to retire from the Indian hockey team. The past couple of months have undoubtedly been the best days of my life. Standing on the podium in Tokyo along with my teammates with whom I have shared some of the most incredible experiences of my life was a feeling I will cherish forever. I believe it is time for me to make way for young and talented players to experience every great joy I have felt in these last 13 years of representing India. I have had the honor of wearing the India jersey in 223 matches and each of these matches are special for I had the privilege of playing for this great sport-loving nation. “
The senior player also expressed gratitude to Hockey India for believing in him, as well as the Baba ShershahWali Academy in Firozpur, where he began his hockey career. In his final statement, he conveyed his gratitude to the coaches and other support staff for their contributions to his accomplishment. He also highlighted the fans, praising them as the driving force behind hockey’s enjoyment, and wishing them continued support as he embarks on a new chapter of his life.