India's Vivek Sagar Prasad, Lalremsiami named FIH's rising stars of 2019

  • The 19-year-old Vivek won the accolade ahead of Argentina's Maico Casella and Blake Govers of Australia, who finished second and third respectively

  • Vivek polled 50 percent of all National Association votes, 23 per cent media votes, 15.1 per cent fans/players votes for a combination of 34.5 per cent votes

  • Forward Lalremsiami took the prize ahead of Argentina's Julieta Jankunas and Frederique Matla of the Netherlands, who finished second and third respectively

Lausanne: The Indian men's team midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad was on Monday named as 2019's rising star of the year by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The 19-year-old Vivek won the accolade ahead of Argentina's Maico Casella and Blake Govers of Australia, who finished second and third respectively.

Vivek polled 50 percent of all National Association votes, 23 per cent media votes, 15.1 per cent fans/players votes for a combination of 34.5 per cent votes.

Casella polled a combined 22 percent votes, while third-placed Govers got 20.9 percent combined votes.

When he was just 17, Vivek became the second-youngest player ever to represent the India national team, in a Four-Nation Invitational tournament in January, 2018. Since then he has appeared for the senior side on more than 50 occasions.

Vivek was also part of the Indian team that won a silver at the 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, losing on shoot-out to Korea in the final.

He was also a member of the Indian team's two most important events in 2019 -- the FIH Series Finals and the subsequent FIH Olympic Qualifiers.

Vivek was voted the Best Young Player of the FIH Series Final and later figured in the national squad for the Olympic qualifiers against Russia in Bhubaneswar last year.

The youngster thanked everyone for helping him to achieve this recognition.

"This is a big moment for me and I thank everyone who voted for me to win this award. This comes as a big motivation to strive harder for the Indian team and give my best as we aim to achieve higher goals for the country," Vivek said.

"I would also like to thank my teammates especially the seniors who ensured they constantly motivated me enough. If I made any mistakes, they encouraged me to give my best," added the youngster, who had led the India U-18 team to a silver medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

Hockey India (HI) also congratulated Vivek on winning the award.

"I congratulate Vivek for winning the prestigious FIH Rising Star of the Year award. He has transitioned into the senior team well and has been effective in the mid-field carrying out his duties as expected," HI president Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad said.

Lalremsiami named as the 2019 FIH Women's Rising Star of the Year

India forward Lalremsiami has been named as the 2019 FIH Women's Rising Star of the Year, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old attacker took the prize ahead of Argentina's Julieta Jankunas and Frederique Matla of the Netherlands, who finished second and third respectively, the FIH said in a statement.

The player from Mizoram got 40 percent of all the votes cast. She got 47.7 percent of her votes from among national associations, while the media, fans/players contributed 28.4 percent and 36.4 percent respectively.

Lalremsiami first came into the wider hockey consciousness at the Hockey Women's World Cup in 2018 when she was one of the stand-out players of the tournament.

Since then she has been at the heart of the rise of the Indian women's hockey team as it has cemented a spot in the world's top 10 teams over the past two years.

Since making her debut in 2017 in a test series against Belarus, Lalremsiami has made a name for herself as a striker of phenomenal ability. Twice in her short senior career, she has been top goalscorer — in a test series against Korea in 2017 and against Spain in 2019.

At the Ready Steady Tokyo event, which took place in August 2019, Lalremsiami scored the winning goal in the final against Japan. Over the course of that event, India drew with Australia, who were ranked at number two in the world, as well as drawing with Asian rivals China.

However, the two events that really made India and Lalremsiami's year — at either end of the emotional scale — were the competitions leading to qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

At the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima, India thwarted challenge from eight other teams all seeking a place in the Olympic Qualifiers. India held their nerves and took top spot, setting up a double header against USA.

Tragically for Lalremsiami, her father died during the course of that event, but the young athlete played on, despite her grief.

She later said, "I wanted to make my father proud. I wanted to stay, play and make sure India qualified."

Lalremsiami did not feature among the goals in the two Olympic Qualifier matches against USA but her constant running and creativity helped put the opposition defence under pressure, allowing captain Rani Rampal to score the decisive goal that sent India to Tokyo.

Lalremsiami's achievements are all the more remarkable considering that she hails from a small, agricultural community in Mizoram.

As a teenager, Lalremsiami left home to join the hockey academy at Thenzawi, 150 kilometres from her home.

"Hockey is not very famous in my village; very few people played the sport. However, I was always interested in playing hockey so I had to move to Thenzawl, which was very far from my village so I had to move into their hostel in my early teenage years," she was quoted as saying by Olympic Channel.

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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2020 11:34:11 IST