PR Sreejesh: The Malayali Behind The Indian Hockey Olympic Win

It was an emotional moment for PR Sreejesh from Pallikkara, the goalkeeper for the Indian men’s hockey team, to win a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The Olympic hockey medal will reach Indian shores after 41 years, since winning gold in the 1980 Moscow Games. There has not been a prouder moment than this.

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It was Sreejesh’s last-minute save from a German penalty corner that got everyone, including his family back in Pallikkara, shouting their lungs out. With just 6.28 seconds left on the timer, Sreejesh’s save got India the Olympic medal. He shared a tweet of his father and family reacting to his save, and it will give you goosebumps. He dedicated this medal to his father.

PR Sreejesh is a history graduate from Sree Narayana College in Kollam. It took years of toiling to reach where he is today. At the age of 12, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in hockey. His PT teacher referred him to GV Raja Sports School in Thiruvananthapuram. His father, however, was a bit hesitant because back in their day, hockey wasn’t a well-known sport. Sreejesh came from a family of farmers, and affording equipment was an expensive affair. Yet his father found a way to raise funds, including selling his cow, so that his son could learn the sport.

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Sreejesh went on to win the Arjuna Award, made his debut at the 2006 South Asian Games, was awarded ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ at the 2008 Junior Asia Cup,  played at the Asian Games and Hockey World League. He even represented India at the 2014 World Cup, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games/ His efforts made him rise up the ladder, and that’s what made a difference.

He has made 236 international appearances. At one point in time, he even contemplated his career in sports. In 2017, he succumbed to an injury that kept him out of the team for a while. But after speaking to like-minded people, he got the courage to stay in the field, recover, and come back stronger. His comeback proved to be a huge opportunity for the Indian men’s hockey team.

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PR Sreejesh is an inspiration to many sports enthusiasts and budding talents in Kerala. If he can achieve this, anybody can.

Aishwarya Gopinath
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.

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