IMPHAL, July 13 - Twenty seven year old Anuradha Thokchom from Toubul village in Manipur�s Bishnupur district ensured a place in the 16-member Indian women�s hockey team which will feature at the Rio Olympics starting next month.
Following the footsteps of her fellow Manipur player Sushila Pukhrambam (24), who was named the skipper replacing former captain Ritu Rani, the duo will feature in the first Indian women�s team after a gap of 36. India last qualified for the Olympics in women�s hockey in 1980. Ritu has been dropped allegedly due to form and attitude problems. Belonging to a poor family, Anuradha had to struggle a lot in order to support her father Th Churamani, who was a rickshaw puller by profession and also has been the support line for her three siblings. Her father passed away in 2008.
�I had to engage in all forms of activities since my early age,� said the forward in Indian team from New Delhi on phone. �Initially I was a football fanatic, but hockey came all of a sudden due to lack of footballers in my village.�
Despite facing several odds and other family issues, Anuradha started to play hockey under the guidance of her brothers prior to proper training under Imphal based Posterior Hockey Academy.
Commenting on her selection in Indian team for Rio Olympics, Anuradha who took to hockey about one and half decade ago said, �I�m so happy that I felt like crying when the list was announced, I suddenly remembered my Baba, Mama and Ojas (guides) besides well wishers for their continuous support.�
�Now scoring the first goal (in Rio Olympics) is my dream. I will give my full performance as I do not want to lose this golden opportunity in my career,� said the forward. �So bless me to prove my mettle,� she added.