Indian men's hockey team mid-fielder Vivek Sagar Prasad says it feels surreal to be nominated for the FIH Rising Star of the Year award for the second time in his career, having already claimed the honour in the 2019-20 season. (More Hockey News)
Prasad was part of the team's historic bronze medal winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this month. This was the team's first Olympic medal in over four decades.
"I never imagined this would happen again. It's a surreal feeling to have been nominated for the second time in the same category (FIH Rising Star of the Year Awards)," Prasad, who is one of the six nominated players, said in a release issued by Hockey India.
"I got to know this late in the night when I saw texts from my friends congratulating me for this. To be honest, it's really overwhelming."
The Indian hockey contingent made the shortlist of all the categories of FIH Awards 2020-21 following the stupendous feat at Tokyo.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who played a vital role in the campaign, credited his senior teammates for his nominations.
"...it's the result of teamwork and the support of senior players. Since my debut, senior players have been the biggest source of my motivation," he said.
"They have helped me play my natural game without any fear and pressure, and that is the biggest reason behind why I could win the 2019 FIH Rising Star of the Year Award and also stand a chance to win the accolade for the second time."
Prasad said the feeling of winning an Olympic bronze "hasn't really sunk in yet."
"I still can't believe I was part of the Olympic medal-winning team. It's a dream of every athlete, and I am really blessed to be able to live this dream at the age of 21," he said.
"However, we also need to realise that this is just the beginning, and there's still a lot of room for improvement. We have raised the bar, and we have to do even better. There will be more challenges ahead, and we need to be fully prepared for whatever comes our way."