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Indian Hockey on a high!

Updated on: 07 October,2021 08:25 AM IST  |  Lausanne

All eight nominees bag FIH awards; Oly champs Belgium disappointed

Indian Hockey on a high!

Harmanpreet Singh (Player of the Year: Men’s). Pics/Getty Images, Hockey India

India swept the International Hockey Federation’s annual awards on Wednesday, claiming all the top honours based on a voting system which was lambasted as a “failure” by men’s Olympic champions Belgium, prompting the FIH to say that it would try to figure why some associations did not cast their ballot.

Five Indian players and the head coaches of both the men’s and women’s teams in Tokyo claimed the top honours across different categories after fetching the maximum votes. The men’s hockey team had won a bronze, its first in 41 years, in the Tokyo Olympics, while the women’s side had finished an unprecedented fourth in the showpiece.

Harmanpreet, Gurjit shine

Harmanpreet Singh won the men’s ‘Player of the Year’ award and Gurjit Kaur was recognised as the best player in the women’s section. Veteran PR Sreejesh and Savita Punia won the best goalkeeper awards in the men’s and women’s section, while young striker Sharmila Devi (women) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (men) were adjudged best rising stars.

Gurjit Kaur (Player of the Year: Women)
Gurjit Kaur (Player of the Year: Women)

The drag-flick duo of Harmanpreet and Gurjit were the top-scorers in their respective team’s stellar run at the Games. Men’s team coach Graham Reid and women’s coach Sjoerd Marijne were also voted the best. While Reid is still with the team, Marijne’s tenure ended after the Tokyo Games. Hockey Belgium reacted sharply to the announcement of the winners and questioned the process as none of their Tokyo Games champions managed to win an award.

Votes from National Associations—represented by their respective national captains and coaches—accounted for 50 per cent of the overall result, while fans and players (25 per cent) as well as media (25 per cent) made the other half of the votes. It is to be noted that only 19 associations from the 42-strong European bloc cast their votes, compared to 29 out of 33 in Asia.

“Hockey Belgium is very disappointed with the outcome of @FIH_Hockey Star Awards. A gold winning team with multiple nominees in all categories but doesn’t win a single award demonstrates failure of the voting system. We will work with FIH to ensure a fairer system in the future,” the Belgian association tweeted.

‘This is not normal’

The sentiment was shared by the team’s official handle as well. “We fully agree! This is not normal! The credibility and image of our sport is once again facing hard times. It’s a pity @FIH,” stated the Red Lions.

Following Belgium’s objection, FIH issued a statement to clarify its stand and promised a review if necessary. “As one can see, all winning athletes have topped the standings in each of the three voting groups. As always FIH will conduct a review of the FIH Hockey Star Awards and make adjustments wherever deemed necessary,” it said.

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