BENGALURU: It took him 12 years to realise his Olympic dream and India defender Amit Rohidas says he is now just focussing on helping the men's hockey team return with a medal from the upcoming Tokyo Games.
"It has taken me 12 years to reach here. I am extremely delighted to be part of the Olympic squad, one of my biggest dreams has been fulfilled now," said Rohidas in a release issued by Hockey India.
"I am thankful to every coach who helped me groom as a hockey player. My sole focus is to have a successful campaign at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the recent successful tours have definitely been a boost for the team's confidence."
The 28-year-old defender, who has played 97 matches for the national side, hails from the same village in Sundargarh (in Odisha) where three-time Olympian and former India captain Dilip Tirkey was also born.
"He (Dilip Tirkey) has inspired many from my village to look at hockey as an engine of change. From where I belong, hockey is not only a sporting discipline but a vehicle for socio-economic growth. I have become the first non-tribal hockey Olympian from Odisha."
Rohidas made his India debut at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2013 in Malaysia.
He was also part of the team that won the silver medal at the 2013 Asia Cup.
He was the vice-captain of the junior national team for the 2013 men's World Cup in New Delhi.
"My first big break came in 2009, when I was selected for the U-18 Asia Cup, and bagged the Best Player of the Tournament award for my seven goals," he said.
"Then, I featured in the silver medal-winning Indian team of Sultan of Johor Cup in 2013. I was then finally promoted to the senior team.
"Soon after, I was named as Manpreet Singh's deputy for the FIH Junior Men's World Cup held in Delhi, where we couldn't do well, and I felt like everything was over for me."
Rohidas cemented his place in the senior national team after impressing with his defensive duties in the 2017 Hockey India League.
He made his comeback to the national side on the Belgium tour and since then he has been an integral part of the team.
"I got a chance to feature in the Hockey India League, alongside legendary players like Moritz Fuertes, Ashley Jackson, and Austin Smith.
I started my club career in 2013 with Ranchi Rhinos, which won the title that year, and I was a part of Kalinga Lancers that became Champions in 2017.
"After a good campaign at Hockey India League, I finally made my comeback in 2017 with the Belgian tour, and ever since, be it the World Cup, the Asian Games or the Commonwealth Games, I haven't looked back."