India women’s hockey team can finish in top 4 in Tokyo, says Deepika Thakur

Former Indian women’s hockey star Deepika Thakur believes the current team, led by Rani, has a strong chance to finish in the top four in the Olympic Games scheduled to be held next year in Tokyo.

Deepika, who was recently conferred with the Arjuna Award, feels the team has it in them to bounce back when international competitions resume after the Covid-19 break despite the fact that they have not been in competition for a significant part of this year.

“I certainly believe the team can bounce back. They were in good rhythm after winning back-to-back tournaments last year and they had done well in New Zealand earlier this year.”

“They were high on confidence too. This team is hungry to achieve success at the highest level and hence I am sure once competitions resume, they will bounce back and do everything in their capacity to finish top 4 in Tokyo,” she added.

Moving forward, Deepika feels the team should remain motivated and focused on their goal of doing well at the Olympic Games. “The current Indian side is very committed and focused. But when you have to be in national camps without competition, it is easy to feel less motivated,” stated the experienced defender.

“Also, without competition, it is difficult to assess improvement. Hence, I would say it is a very crucial time for the team and each player should have her own yardstick and must work on raising the bar,” she added.

Deepika, who was part of the Indian ream at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and was a significant contributor to lift the Asian Champions Trophy title in 2016, further credited the team’s resurgence to Hockey India who according to her have ensured there are no setbacks in the team’s preparations despite the ongoing battle with the Covid-19 global pandemic.

“I am happy that the team was able to resume activities soon after nationwide lockdowns ended. Even though there may not be any competitions this year due to the prevailing travel restrictions, remaining in the national camp will allow the players enough time to return to old form and keep up their fitness level,” she said.

The defender, who has over 200 international caps, believes Hockey India has ensured that the women’s team gets “fantastic” exposure at the international level and planning the ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competition) accordingly has been critical in the team’s resurgence.