On track to make India proud in Tokyo: Manpreet, Rani

With exactly one year to go for the Olympic Games to begin in Tokyo on July 23, 2021, both men’s and women’s hockey teams from India are committed to make the nation proud and make a podium finish at the prestigious quadrennial tournament.

The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be played this year but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been postponed till summer of 2021.

Manpreet Singh, captain of the men’s team, has expressed that the national side has been getting better with each Olympics.

“It’s certainly exciting that in exactly one year’s time, we will be in Tokyo with the best of the athletes from around the world. I have been part of two Olympic Games so far, so I have gotten used to the big stage. However, there’s always going to be a touch of nervousness floating around among the players as we start the one-year countdown,” said Manpreet.

“The 2012 Olympic Games was certainly a disastrous campaign for us, but it will be special for me since it was my first Olympics.

“We went to the 2016 Olympic Games with a much better side and put up a better performance, but we didn’t achieve our desired result there. We are certainly looking to up the ante in Tokyo,” added the 28-year-old.

Indian men’s hockey team last won a gold medal in hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish.

The skipper added that the Indian team has a good chance to win a medal at the Olympics next year.

“Looking at the way our squad has been performing in the last year, we certainly have a good chance to win a medal at the Olympics. Everyone is clear about their roles in the side and we have enough time to evolve as a team as well.

“We are definitely on track for achieving our desired result in the upcoming Olympics. We just have to keep concentrating on carrying out the processes well and the results will take care of itself,” said Manpreet.

Women’s team captain Rani expressed that the national side certainly can make the country proud at the Olympics next year.

“We have competed against top teams in the recent past and we have shown that our team has the capability of winning a medal and making our country proud at the Olympics.

“We have a good group of experienced players, who are guiding the junior players very well. Our team has been getting better with each tournament we have played and we will definitely improve our game even further in the next one year,” said the 25-year-old.

The Indian eves have never been able to win a medal in Olympics. In Moscow Games in 1980, the team finished fourth while in Rio Games in 2016, they finished at the 12th spot.

Speaking about her participation at the Rio Olympics, Rani said that the experience will help her make better decisions at the Tokyo Olympics.

“It was great to be a part of the Olympics in Rio. We made history by qualifying for the tournament after 36 years. It was a great feeling to be playing at the biggest of stages. Even though we didn’t register the best of results, I have certainly learned a lot by playing the Olympic Games matches in 2016,” said Rani.

“I am sure all the players, who played in the 2016 Olympics, will make much better decisions on the pitch at the Tokyo Olympics, based on their experience in Rio,” she added.