Image Credits: Hockey India
A day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee jointly announced the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the growing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Men and Women's Hockey team Captains expressed their disappointment but vowed to continue to stay committed to their goals.
"We had just finished the day's evening session when Chief Coach Graham Reid informed us about the postponement of the Olympic Games. 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," expressed Manpreet Singh, Captain of the Indian Men's Hockey Team.
The Indian Men's and Women's Hockey Teams have shaped up well over the course of the last year, winning big competitions such as the FIH Series Finals and the FIH Hockey 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 FIH Hockey Pro League while the women's team was stoked after their tour to New Zealand earlier this year.
There is a sense of disappointment in the Indian camp due to the postponement of the Olympic Games, but they are motivated to continue to put in the hard yards for the quadrennial event next year.
"I think the news is yet to sink in for us. We were mentally gearing up for our first match on 25th July 2020, so the disappointment is surely there but it is important for us to now look at the positives. 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," added the midfielder further appealing to all Indian Hockey Fans to stay safe.
"On behalf of the entire team, I would urge all hockey fans to please follow the lockdown and stay safe. While you are indoor, try and do basic workouts to keep yourself fit. It's important to stay healthy both mentally and physically," Manpreet added.
Expressing her team's disappointment over the announcement, 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 on Tuesday evening. Personally, I was very disappointed because the team was in good rhythm to do well at the Tokyo Olympics. But 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 said.
The striker emphasised that it's important for the team to maintain the same focus over the next year. "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.