The Indian men’s hockey team is clocking long hours in the sun to be ready for the heat and humidity that awaits them in Tokyo during this year’s Olympics, said skipper Manpreet Singh who is confident that his team will peak at just the right time.

India have won eight Olympic gold medals in the past, but their last top finish came way back in 1980 Moscow Games.

“We strongly believe we have the best chance to win a medal at the Olympics and this belief is keeping everyone motivated and optimistic,” Manpreet said on the occasion of the 75-day countdown for the Tokyo Olympics which opens on July 23.

“Our training has been planned in such a manner that we peak at the right time and also we are clocking long hours in the sun to get our bodies acclimatised to the hot conditions in Tokyo.”

The skipper, however, said that the postponement of FIH Pro League matches against Germany and Spain due to coronavirus has been a big setback for the team.

“When the FIH Pro League matches against Germany and Spain too were postponed, we were extremely disappointed because those matches would have certainly helped in our preparations. But we understand these are really unprecedented times, and there are travel restrictions in place,” Manpreet said.

Meanwhile, Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal is relieved that all seven players, who had tested positive for Covid-19 recently, will resume training from next week after recovering from the deadly virus.

Rani and six other players, including Savita Punia, Sharmila Devi, Rajani, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur and Sushila had tested positive for the virus upon their arrival here for the national camp after a 10-day break.

Besides the players, two support staff – video analyst Amrutaprakash and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard – had also contracted the virus and have now recovered.

“We are relieved that all those players who had tested positive are all doing fine and have geared up to resume training. We are taking all precautions on campus so that we stay healthy and injury-free in the lead up to the Games,” Rani said.

“Despite these setbacks, we will continue to pursue our goal of doing well in Tokyo. The next 75 days are crucial, and we are upbeat as a group.”