New Delhi: Hockey India on Monday congratulated the Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh for winning the World Games Athlete of the Year 2021 Award.
He became just the second Indian athlete after Indian Women’s Hockey stalwart Rani to win this prestigious award.
This was the ninth edition of the IWGA initiative that recognises and honours an athlete or a team for their outstanding performance in 2021, or for their social commitment or particularly fair behaviour.
A total of 24 athletes from 17 countries were nominated for this award from their respective sports by their international federations. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) had recommended Sreejesh’s name for his outstanding efforts in the year 2021.
The winner of this prestigious award was adjudged through the online voting process and Sreejesh accumulated a mammoth 1,27,647 votes to bag this award. In 2019, Rani became the first from India to win the World Games Athlete of the Year with 1,99,477 votes.
The Olympics Bronze Medalist, who also became the first male athlete from the country to win this award, thanked his fans and well-wishers around the world for supporting and voting him for this honour.
“I’m very honoured to win this award. First of all, a big thank you to FIH for nominating me for this award, and secondly thanks to all the Indian hockey lovers around the world, who voted for me. By getting nominated I did my part, but the rest was done by the fans and hockey lovers. So, definitely, this award goes to them, and I think they deserve this award more than me. It’s a big moment for Indian Hockey as well because everyone in the hockey community, all the hockey federations around the world voted for me, so it’s great to see that support from the hockey family,” said Sreejesh, who inspired the Indian Men’s Hockey Team’s historic Bronze Medal win at Tokyo Olympics 2020
The three-time Olympian further said, “Also, I am a person, who doesn’t believe in individual awards, especially when you are part of a team. It’s not only the team of 33 players, but you have a lot of people involved behind as well, there’s coaching staff, there’s support staff, there’s a great association like Hockey India who is supporting you a lot, there’s Sports Authority of India (SAI), who are providing you with all the world-class facilities to train, there’s Odisha Government who’s unwavering support helps the sport grow and flourish and there’s India Olympic Association (IOA) as well, who re taking care of you really well. So, it’s a collective effort of a nation to get this kind of recognition.”
Congratulating Sreejesh, Hockey India president Gyanendro Ningombam said, “On behalf of Hockey India, I congratulate Sreejesh for winning the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year 2021 Award. This is a very proud and special moment for India as he became the only second Indian athlete to win this honour. I would like to thank FIH, the hockey community around the world, and of course, all his fans for supporting him and voting him to win this award. It’s a big achievement for him as well as to Indian hockey.”
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Thierry Weil also congratulated Sreejesh. He said, “On behalf of the global hockey community, I’d like to wholeheartedly congratulate PR Sreejesh for this magnificent achievement. This is a great recognition for him, for his team and for hockey as a whole. We also extend our sincerest thanks to all fans who voted for him. Athletes are the best ambassadors of our sport and India’s goalkeeper certainly is a leader in this field too. We look forward to seeing him in action again in just a few days for the third edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League!”