India’s hockey workforce might be impressed of their bid for Olympic glory by the heroes of the game who misplaced their lives within the coronavirus pandemic, says goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.
India as soon as dominated males’s discipline hockey, successful eight Olympic golds between 1928 and 1980, however have since didn’t win a single medal of any color.
India are nonetheless Asia’s high workforce however are actually ranked fourth on the earth behind Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The workforce feels the load of historical past.
Two members of India’s final Olympic gold medal-winning workforce, Ravindra Pal Singh and Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, died from Covid on the identical day in Might.
Keshav Datt, who was a part of successful groups in 1948 and 1952, died final week however his demise was on account of age-related sickness.
“These heroes have been all the time there in our coronary heart and they are going to be there,” Sreejesh informed AFP.
“It’s a tribute to them after we are heading to the Tokyo Olympics. That is the time to recollect their exhausting work, their contribution to Indian hockey.
“They usually created historical past for us, they introduced plenty of glory for us. So that is the least we will do, to play higher hockey within the Tokyo Olympics.”
– Hockey heroes –
Hockey greats Dhyan Chand and KD Singh Babu have been the celebs as India received six straight Olympic tournaments between 1928 and 1956.
5 of their eight triumphs got here after India’s independence from British rule in 1947.
Sreejesh, who might be showing at a 3rd Olympics, mentioned India’s wealthy hockey historical past offers the workforce, below coach Graham Reid and captain Manpreet Singh, added inspiration.
“That historical past offers you braveness,” mentioned the 33-year-old. “We should always consider in that, have a look at our historical past, take inspiration from that and simply go and play our greatest in Tokyo.”
The Sreejesh-led Indian workforce crashed out within the quarter-finals on the 2016 Rio Olympics, however the veteran goalkeeper believes the workforce is best ready now.
“The expertise offers you extra confidence and the preparation offers you the vitality to face any Olympic occasion,” he mentioned.
Sreejesh mentioned the time misplaced to pandemic lockdowns had additionally made the gamers’ resolve stronger.
“We have been caught within the coaching centre and have been in a bio-bubble,” he mentioned.
“However now, heading into the Olympics, I really feel that the entire sacrifice we made over the past one-and-a-half years goes to assist us as a result of life taught us the right way to drive this.”
Sreejesh mentioned the workforce is aiming for a medal however will take “one sport at a time” in Tokyo.
“When the Olympics are close to then there is only one dream, to be a part of historical past, so sooner or later, the children, the individuals discuss that there was one hockey workforce in 2021 who performed the Tokyo Olympics and there was a goalkeeper whose title was Sreejesh.
“I simply wish to hear that so my children and fogeys might be proud and say that’s my dad standing on the podium.”
Hockey stays India’s nationwide sport however has slipped within the reputation stakes behind cricket, which might boast glamour and riches.
However Sreejesh believes competitors from cricket will solely drive hockey gamers as they try to make their approach again into followers’ hearts with some assist from TV.
“I typically really feel the followers will not be in a position to watch hockey sufficient as there’s much less telecast on TV,” mentioned Sreejesh.
“But when someone is there in entrance of you then there’s additional vitality to chase them, to battle with them or get stage with them. I believe cricket helps us to enhance.
“We are going to battle to win and our medals will assist our sport acquire extra consideration and extra recognition. And I hope sooner or later our efficiency will appeal to lot of kids to the sport of hockey.”