A grand reception was accorded to PR Sreejesh, goalkeeper of the Indian hockey team that won the bronze medal at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, on Tuesday evening at the Cochin International Airport here with hundreds of fans thronging the arrival area to welcome their hero. The welcome reception, organised by the Kerala government, was led by Sports Minister V Abdurahiman with the participation of State Sports Council President Mercy Kuttan, MLA P V Sreenijan and District Collector Jafer Malik among others.
The family of Sreejesh, including his parents, P V Raveendran and Ushakumari, wife P K Aneeshya and children Anushree and Sreeansh were also present to welcome him home. In an emotional moment, Sreejesh put the medal around his father’s neck.
Later, he was taken to his residence at Kizhakkambalam in an open jeep accompanied by the minister. After a small reception at his hometown, Sreejesh told the media that he was really happy was such a grand reception was accorded to him. “This medal is an Onam gift to everyone," he said raising the medal.
“Hockey is good game and we will feel addicted to it. I hope more parents will send their children to play hockey and in future I wish more players, better than me, win gold in the Olympics," he said. When asked whether the state government had announced any reward for him, Sreejesh said as a sportsperson, he achieved his biggest dream which was to win a medal in Olympics. “As a sportsperson, as a hockey player, my biggest ambition was to win a medal in the Olympics and I got it. I am sure that the state government will recognise our victory and the medal," he added.
Sreejesh said the weather affected the Indian team like it affected all other teams. “It was humid and rained some days, but we got used to it and performed well. Our next aim is the upcoming Asian Games which will help us to qualify for the next Olympics," he said. The Indian men’s hockey team rewrote history as it claimed an Olympic medal after 41 years, defeating Germany 5-4 to win the bronze in an edge-of-the-seat play-off match of the ongoing Games in Tokyo.
It was India’s third hockey bronze medal in the history of the Olympics. The other two came in 1968 Mexico City and the 1972 Munich Games.