The news of Tokyo Olympic postponement is yet to sink in but India’s hockey captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal are confident that they will take the disappointment in stride while working hard for the next one year.
The decision to move the Tokyo games to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was announced on Tuesday after a phone call between Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and the International Olympic Committee supremo Thomas Bach.
“We had just finished the day’s evening session when chief coach Graham Reid informed us about the postponement of the Olympic Games,” Indian men’s team captain, Manpreet Singh said.
“I think the news is yet to sink in for us. We were mentally gearing up for our first match on 25th July, so the disappointment is surely there but it is important for us to now look at the positives,” he added.
The Indian men’s and women’s teams have shaped up well over the course of the last year, winning big competitions such as the FIH Series Finals and the Olympic Qualifiers in front of the home crowd in November last year.
The men’s team made a fine start to the season this year with fantastic outing in the Pro League while the women’s team was stoked after their tour to New Zealand earlier this year.
“Though, somewhere at the back of our minds we anticipated this could happen considering the impact Covid-19 has made across the globe, we had never let it affect our training or the intensity needed in every session,” Manpreet said.
“Over the past ten months, we have grown as a team under Chief Coach Graham Reid and I believe we will only continue to build on our form under him in the next one year. Our motivation has not been affected by this announcement. As a team, we will continue to remain committed to our goal of becoming a better side and bring back the glory days for hockey in India,” he added.
Expressing her team’s disappointment over the announcement, women’s team skipper Rani emphasised that her side will utilize the next one year to hone their skills further ahead of the Olympic Games in 2021.
“We were already in a meeting when chief coach Sjoerd Marijne received the news and broke it to us. Personally, I was very disappointed because the team was in good rhythm as we approached the Tokyo Olympics,” Rani said.
“If you see our team’s performance in the past two years in specific, we have grown from strength to strength, challenging every top team in the world. We are looking at this postponement as a positive to continue to work hard and take our game to the next level” Rani added.
The striker emphasised that it’s important for the team to maintain the same focus over the next year.
She said: “It is important for the team to remain focused and continue to keep up the intensity. This one year postponement also gives us more time with Analytical Coach Janneke Schopman, who has been a fantastic addition to the support staff and her experience as an Olympic Gold Medallist is very inspiring for us.”
“Both Sjoerd and Janneke’s combination is very effective and we are confident of moving up the ladder under their guidance,” Rani added.