Bhubaneswar, 12 February 2020: Back in January 2018, when a 17-year-old Vivek Sagar Prasad was given the opportunity to represent the Indian Men's Hockey Team in a 4-Nations Tournament in New Zealand, he became the second-youngest men's player ever to represent the Indian Senior team, only behind former drag-flicker Sandeep Singh. Two years on, the youngster who was awarded with the FIH Rising Star of the Year 2019 award on Monday, has transformed into one of the best upcoming talents across the world, and says that he wants to keep doing well for the country.

"I think there is no better feeling than representing your country at the highest level," he said. "When I was younger, I would be more interested in badminton and chess, but as things turned out, I slowly shifted to hockey, and I can't thank my family, Coaches and friends enough for what they have done for me. This is such a good feeling, and I want to thank everyone who voted for me. This award is a huge recognition, and I just want to make sure that I keep working hard, maintain my focus, and bring laurels for the country," said Vivek during his team's National Camp in Bhubaneswar ahead of two FIH Hockey Pro League matches against World No. 2 Australia.

Vivek, who is 19 now, is the youngest of four siblings born to his father Rohit Prasad, who is a primary school teacher in Gajpur, Uttar Pradesh, and mother Kamla Devi who is a homemaker. "I have a family who have always supported me, and I could not be much happier to have them in my life. It was a really emotional moment for me and my family when I called them informing that I had won this award as they have always sacrificed a lot for my career, but as they say, the price of success is hard work, dedication and sacrifice," expressed Vivek, who had also Captained the India U-18 Team to Silver Medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"I am also thankful to all my Coaches as well who identified me and motivated me to do better. Their support and motivation each day has led me to the Indian team, and makes me want to win more trophies and medals with the team," he added.

Asked what his reaction was when he heard about the news, Vivek said, "Initially when the nominations were declared, I was in my room after training, and Manpreet bhai was the first person who informed me. I thought he was kidding, but then he showed me the official FIH website, so I was really happy. Then on Monday when the actual winner was to be announced, our Chief Coach had called everyone for a team meeting before dinner, so I thought it would be a routine team meeting, but there I was given a fantastic surprise by my Coaches, teammates and Hockey India, and I was really elated with joy," said Vivek.

Having scored India's opening goal against World Champions Belgium at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium here in Bhubaneswar during the second match on 9th February 2020, Vivek's confidence is palpable during training after being a stand-out performer in the midfield. "I think I was just focusing on doing my basics right. There was an opportunity to go forward as well, now and then, so I utilized that during the first goal. I think we had a few opportunities throughout the match, but we couldn't convert. However, personally, I think I was able to perform well because I was playing my natural game according to my strengths," he concluded.

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