Winning start crucial at the Olympics: striker Ramandeep Singh
New Delhi, June 10, 2021
Ace hockey striker Ramandeep Singh feels that a winning start is a crucial factor at the Olympics as it gives a heady kickstart to the campaign for a podium finish.
India (men) will take on New Zealand in their Olympic opener on July 24 in Tokyo and to gain the right momentum it will be very important to begin well, he said.
"A lot will depend on how we fare in the first match. A good result against New Zealand will set the right momentum for the rest of the tournament," Ramandeep told Hockey India in Bengaluru.
India is clubbed in Pool A along with reigning Olympic champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan.
"We are currently replicating the Olympic Schedule, three teams with different combinations from within the Olympic Core Group have been formed and the Coaching Staff has created an atmosphere that is similar to what it would be like at the Olympics," he said.
"We wear the Indian kit, we get ready as though we are facing a tough international opponent, we do team activation (pre-match drills) just like we would before an international game and we also line up for the national anthem before the start of the match," Ramandeep, who was part of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, said.
According to him there is a lot of excitement among the probables as the team selection trials are underway.
"Of course, there is a lot of excitement within the group, and this exercise of replicating the Olympic schedule is also a good way to test our bodies with two back-to-back games and then a day's rest.
"We are paying attention on recovery when we have back-to-back matches and so on. Though we missed out on traveling for international matches due to the pandemic, I feel this exercise of playing internal matches is really bringing out the match-mentality to the fore," he said.
Talking about his own form this Olympic cycle, Ramandeep said his knee injury in 2018 caused a setback to an otherwise good run.
"I think 2016 and 2017 for me was really good, I was in good form and was doing really well but the knee injury during the Champions Trophy in 2018 was a big setback. It took me about six-seven months to recover and just when I had begun playing, I had an ankle injury. But mid 2019 onwards I have been doing well and I believe I have returned to my old form,"
The seasoned campaigner was part of the team which toured Euorpe early this year but a hand injury forced him out of the tour after the first game against Germany where India won 6-1.
"I also ended up missing the Argentina Tour due to this minor injury, I was rested for about 15-20 days. But now I feel I am in good nick," he added.