With only 200 days to go for Tokyo Olympics, captains of the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams believe this will be the most crucial time of their lives. Both Manpreet Singh and Rani, skippers of the respective men’s and women’s teams, have cautioned that the players should not let external factors affect their goal of achieving success in the prestigious quadrennial event.
The Tokyo Olympics, which were slated to be held in July-August in 2020, had to be postponed to summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far claimed over 18 lakh lives across the world.
“The biggest learning from last year was to not let external factors affect our goal. There could be many uncertainties but we need to only worry about what’s within our control and that is to work towards being our best. There could be several challenges leading up to the Olympic Games this year and we need to be mentally prepared for it,” said Manpreet.
He further stated that the next 200 days, every single player in the core group should focus on giving his 100 per cent.
“The next 200 days is going to be the most important period of our lives. Each one of us have to give our 100 per cent in training and in competition if we want to see ourselves make the Indian team for Tokyo,” said the midfielder.
Reflecting Manpreet views, Rani too agreed that in the next few months, players would need to up their game in all aspects.
“In the previous national camp which lasted over four months, we have really worked hard to reach the level we were previously at. In the next few months, our focus will be on improving further in all aspects of the game. Our competitions this year will show us where we stand and what needs to be improved. From here on, each one of us have to work on being the best,” said the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee.
Rani said that players should not take their place in the team for granted and that they will have to showcase that they are indeed the best to make the cut.
“Everyone including myself cannot take our place in the team for guaranteed and we need to prove in every session and every game why we are worthy of our place in the team. We have a very good set of youngsters coming up and I am sure they will be pushing us to earn a spot,” Rani said.
“I look forward to good competition within the team as it brings out the best in us. Another thing we need to focus on is our mental fitness and also take care of our bodies in the lead up to the Games to avoid any injuries,” she added.