India a strong contender for podium finish in Hockey in Tokyo: Olympian Tushar Khandker
New Delhi, June 8, 2021
Olympian and former assistant coach Tushar Khandker feels that the Indian men's hockey team has a realistic chance to have a podium finish at the Tokyo Games.
"Definitely I am excited to watch the Olympics. I feel the way the team is doing right now; they are a strong contender to finish on the podium," he said in a conversation with Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Olympic Games.
Khandker, who was assistant coach of the Men's Team from 2014 to 2016, feels that the present side has raised the level in every aspect.
"I feel the current team has raised the level and they have developed a great sense of self belief that they can do well against top teams of the world.
"After a slump in 2008-09, it has taken us 10-11 years to climb to this level we are at now," said the former forward who made his International debut in 2003.
Giving reasons for his optimism, Khandker explained, "We have learnt from each of the Olympic Games. While we didn't qualify in 2008, we finished 12th in London and 8th in Rio.
"We learnt from the mistakes we made in 2012, and players part of the London Olympics like Sreejesh, Manpreet, Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Raghunath (and others) who also got to play in Rio had told themselves the team won't make the same mistakes they made in London.
"Likewise, I am sure players who were part of the Rio Olympics will caution the team of the errors they need to avoid making in Tokyo."
The former international also praised Hockey India's efforts in professionalizing the system.
"To make a good team, we definitely need good planning, and I am very happy with the way Hockey India plans and executes systematically. Over the past 10-12 years they have brought in a lot of changes and have laid emphasis on a very scientific approach to train players.
"They are not only looking at producing quality players, but they are also working on developing quality coaches through the Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway."