Games & medals
Rio de Janeiro 2016
Manpreet SINGH biography
Manpreet Singh, with his passion and determination, is the leader of a youthful Indian men's hockey team.
The men’s hockey team captain may not be too expressive off the field but transforms into a vocal leader once he steps on the turf with an innate ability to pick out a teammate no matter how tightly he is marked.
Born in the village of Mithapur near Jalandhar, a city that has produced many Indian hockey stars over the years, Manpreet Singh was introduced to the game early in life.
Both his elder brothers were stars for the school hockey team and with former captain and Padma Shri awardee Pargat Singh serving as the deputy police superintendent in Mithapur, playing hockey was a natural step for a young Manpreet Singh.
Playing against the wishes of his protective mother who considered hockey a ‘dangerous sport’, the stubborn Manpreet kept playing and impressed many. Two years later, his passion finally earned his family’s trust and he got enrolled at the famed Surjit Hockey Academy in nearby Jalandhar.
From thereon, his journey would only go upwards - Manpreet Singh made his junior and senior debut for the Indian hockey team in 2011 and was also named in the squad for the London 2012 Olympics.
The Indian hockey team had a subpar outing on their Olympic return, but Manpreet Singh, buoyed by that experience, returned to the junior fold and was named captain for the 2013 Junior Hockey World Cup.
He led the junior team to the Sultan of Johor Cup title the same year and was named in the senior side again in 2014, a year where he won gold medal at the Asian Games and silver at the Commonwealth Games with the Indian hockey team.
Manpreet Singh has since been a regular in the team and has adapted his game to the rigours of the international level by learning from his idols, Indian hockey legend Sardar Singh and ex-Germany captain Moritz Furste.
His second taste of Olympics came at Rio 2016, where the Indian hockey team beat Ireland and Argentina but bowed out in the quarter-finals after a loss against Belgium.
Later that year, while playing at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Manpreet Singh received news of his father’s death. The youngster flew home, and this was when his mother, who had not wanted him to play the game years ago, encouraged him to be with his team because that’s what his father always wanted.
The event helped him relate with one of his inspirations, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who too had also lost his father early in life. And like the Portuguese star, captain Manpreet Singh too takes initiative to lift his troops on the field.
“I am the sort of person who likes to motivate youngsters when they are going through poor form or for some reason, are not able to do as well. Ultimately, hockey is a team game and everyone’s contribution is equally important,” he told the Olympic Channel.
The biggest moment of Manpreet Singh’s career came in 2017 when he was named captain of the Indian hockey team in the absence of veteran custodian PR Sreejesh, for the Asia Cup.
It was an event the Indian hockey team had not won for 10 years, and Manpreet Singh enjoyed the perfect start to the new phase of his life, leading them to the title.
He was instated as the team’s permanent captain after that and has since skippered them to gold at the Asian Champions Trophy, silver at the Champions Trophy and bronze at the 2018 Asian Games.
Manpreet Singh was also conferred the Arjuna Award by the Indian government the same year.
The captain was also instrumental in securing the Indian hockey team’s spot for the Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020 and was named the men’s FIH Player of the Year for 2019 for his efforts, making him the first Indian to win the FIH honour.