India hockey star Birendra Lakra on Thursday announced his retirement from the game.
"Over the past few weeks, I have introspected about my journey in hockey. Nothing has given me more joy and pride than to represent my country and wear the India jersey. Now, the time has come for me to move on and allow the next generation of players to experience this great feeling of playing for India. After 201 caps and 11 years, I have decided to retire from the Indian Hockey team," said Lakra in an Instagram post.
"The thought of not being able to share the dressing room again with some of the most fantastic players is unimaginable at the moment but I wish my teammates the very best as they prepare to take Indian hockey to the next level with just three years left in this Olympic cycle," he added.
Lakra was a part of the Indian men's hockey team that managed to win a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
"There have been many highs and lows in the years that I was with the Indian Men's Hockey Team but there could be no better feeling than winning the Olympic Bronze medal. I feel the moment is right to move on from the national team and pursue a new path. The game has given me so much and I will always look for different ways to give back to the sport that has changed my life for the better," said Lakra.
"I would like to acknowledge the role Hockey India has played in my career. Their support all these years, particularly when I was struggling with injuries, is invaluable. I would also like to thank all the coaches I have worked with as they have all taught me important lessons I will cherish for life," he added.
Earlier on Thursday, India hockey player Rupinder Pal Singh decided to hang his boots and make way for the young brigade. Having been a part of India's historic journey to a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, Rupinder said he is happy and content after winning a medal in the showpiece event.