Aiming for a medal at the Olympics: Men's and Women's Hockey team captains
New Delhi, January 2, 2021
Indian men's and women's hockey team captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampaul have exuded confidence of winning a medal each at the Tokyo Olympics.
Talking to Hockey India, Manpreet said his side is looking forward to much-needed match practice before the Olympics.
"We are very excited about getting back into the international circuit. We are really looking forward to playing against an international team before the Olympics. A few matches against a good team will help us prepare for the Olympics.
"This year is very important for us. We have practised very hard in the last few months and have raised our game to a level that is close to which we usually operate in international games. If we play to our potential at the Olympics in July, then we will surely bring glory to our country. We have to go into the Olympics with a mindset of clinching a medal," he said.
The men's team played their last international match against Australia on February 22, 2020 at the FIH Pro League, while the women's team played against New Zealand on February 5, 2020, during their tour of that country before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit the world.
Women's team skipper Rani said that she is looking forward to seeing how her teammates respond to an international match situation.
"We are very excited to make our return to the international circuit. The year 2020 was really tough for us. However, we continued to practise our skills in the National Coaching Camp.
"All the players in the team are feeling very confident about their game and it will be interesting to see how each one of them performs in a match situation after staying away from the international circuit for almost one year.
"If we play to our potential against Argentina then we will attain a lot of confidence for the all-important Olympics, where we are aiming nothing short of a medal. Hopefully, we can make history in Tokyo and make our country proud. We are going to give our absolute best in every match we play this year," the captain said.
With the Olympics being scheduled in July 2021, this year is very important for the hockey teams.
The women's team is set to tour Argentina this month. The side is scheduled to play eight matches against the host nation from January 17 to 31.
Meanwhile, the junior teams are also keen to get back in action this year.
Defender Sanjay said his side is looking forward to performing well at the Junior World Cup and the Junior Asia Cup to be held in India and Bangladesh, respectively, this year..
"We have maintained our fitness throughout 2020 and we are gradually getting back to the usual standard of our games. We are really looking forward to these two events. These are massive tournaments and we have to prepare very well for them in the coming months," said Sanjay.
Junior Women's team defender Ishika Chaudhary said that the Junior Asia Cup is the immediate goal for her team.
"We have been working towards the Junior Asia Cup since we returned to the national camp. It's been great to target a tournament and keep getting better at our game every day.
"It is very important for us since it will give us a chance to book a place in the Junior World Cup. We have a great balance between experienced and new players in our side. I am confident that we will perform to our full potential in all tournaments in 2021," said the 20-year-old.