Dilip Tirkey (born 25 November 1977), hailing from Sundargarh, Odisha, is a former Indian Odia hockey player and his playing position was of full back. He was best known for his penalty corner hit. Dilip was one of the most difficult defenders (because of his tight marking skill near goal post) to beat in the world. He was an ex-captain of Indian hockey team. On 22 March 2012, he was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha as one of the three Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidates to the Upper House of Indian Parliament.
Dilip Tirkey joined Indian National Hockey Team in 1995 and in the same year he played his first International Hockey match against England, in the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup. He rose to prominence due to his immense contribution in the field of Indian sports. With his hard work, consistent performance and talent, he became the Captain of the National Hockey team at a very young age and the team played under his captain-ship for almost 10 years.
Tirkey has played in three Olympics so far. He represented India in 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. He is the only Odia to represent India in three Olympics. He was best known for his penalty corner hit and was one of the most difficult defenders to beat in the world. He has a total of 412 international caps.
He is a great icon of inspiration for many people from backward classes and has made Odisha feel proud for him. He has shown excellence in the field of hockey and proved himself as one of the most elegant player in the world.
Tirkey announced his retirement from International arena on 2nd May 2010.
For his dedication and excellent performance in hockey, Dilip Tirkey won many awards and prizes. Amongst the most important one’s are the ‘Ekalavya Puraskar’ in 1996, the ‘ONGC-Hockey Year Book Award’ in 1998, the ‘Arjun Award’ in 2002, the ‘Padma Shree Award’ in 2004, ‘Biju Patnaik Sportsperson of the Year Award’ in 2004, ‘Ricoh Hockey Star of the Year’in 2009 and ‘Pria Odia (top Odisha personality) Award’ in 2010.
He was recently elected Rajya Sabha MP in April, 2012.
He had donned India colours in three Olympics, three World Championships (1998-2006, captain in Monchengladbach), four Champions Trophy events (1996-2004), three Asian Games, including the one in 1998 where India won the gold in Bangkok, three Asia Cup Championships from 1999 to 2007 and the Commonwealth Games in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur.
Besides there have been a huge number of internationals including the 1995 SAF Games and Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad.
He was the recipient of the Arjuna Award in 2001 and Padma Shri in 2004.
Between 1995and 2001, Tirkey never missed an international match, thus underlining his fitness as well as form. In the illustrious career stretching nearly a decade and half, never has Tirkey been in the epicentre of any controversy.
There have been times when he was elevated as captain and then pushed down to the role of a mere player.
He accepted everything with a philosophical resignation.
He always strove to give his best, uninfluenced by the highs and lows that are part and parcel of a sportsman’s career.
The hockey community needs to learn a lot in the ebb and flow of Tirkey’s rise to fame, and must utilise the expertise of this seasoned veteran in a positive way. Tirkey cannot be allowed to fade away.
An icon in a true sense of the word, he played the sport with great reverence highlighting the tradition and ethos that Indian hockey is noted and admired for.