Hockey | Hockey

Indian men target Olympic podium

Graham Reid. File   | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

The Indian men’s hockey team knows there are expectations of ending an Olympic medal drought and coach Graham Reid fancies his boys’ chances but insists that the team would do well to keep focus on the present.

“There are 11 teams other than us at the Olympics and if you see in the last two years, we have played and beaten all except Canada, who we haven’t had a chance to play. That’s an important point and we will definitely be trying to jump onto that podium but our primary target will be to first qualify for the quarterfinals and then move forward from there,” Reid said at a virtual interaction on Friday.

He did admit that the absence of competitive matches would be a factor but denied reading too much into it. “Honestly, no one knows how much it might affect the team’s preparation. But we did have two very good tours coming into this year after a long period of playing internal matches and one of the things we have been talking about is the strength of the daily training environment and how important it is to play those internal games at the competitive level of intensity,” he explained.

Downplaying it

With questions being raised on the lack of experience in the team’s attack, Reid tried to downplay the issue. “There have been training environments around the world, like ours, where we have been together for 15 months and things are going to happen and players will develop unbeknown to the rest of the world. I come from a culture where youth and the ability to bring exuberance and freshness to a group is very important to us.”

In fact, he insisted that the lockdowns and extended periods of training would be an advantage for the team at Tokyo. “We have spent a lot of time building and understanding the mentality of the players, which normally doesn’t happen.

“I got to know their stories and everything and what everyone has been through in their lives and in this period which has been a very powerful thing. I am sure it will be important when the chips are down in Tokyo,” he said.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 5:23:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/indian-men-target-olympic-podium/article34981302.ece

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