The Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh believes it's time to stop basking in the glory of their bronze medal exploits at the Tokyo Olympics 2021. He feels the team needs to get about resetting their focus and begin planning for a busy schedule next year.
India produced a scintillating performance at the Games, beating Germany 5-4 to clinch bronze and end the country's four-decade-long medal drought.
Manpreet Singh feels the team's short-term goal now should be to do well in the busy 2022 season ahead. Speaking to Hockey India, he said:
"I think these past few weeks have been great, with people showering us with all their love and praises. Now, I feel it's time we rest our bodies and mind. We have enjoyed all the felicitations, the honor and accolades we received has been overwhelming but now we must start thinking about how to better ourselves for the 2022 calendar.”
Indian hockey team's priority to win gold at Asian Games
The Indian hockey teams will miss the Commonwealth Games 2022 (CWG) in Birmingham in order to better focus on the Asian Games, which begin a month after the CWG. A gold medal at the Asian Games would automatically ensure India’s qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics and eliminate the need to play the qualifiers.
The Asian Games are scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 10 next year and Manpreet Singh said the team wouldn’t like to leave anything for later. He said:
"Last time, we ended up with a bronze medal and lost out on winning the automatic qualification. We were lucky to have the FIH Olympic qualifying matches in India. But we can't depend on the same thing again. The best would be for us to qualify by winning the Asian Games, so it gives us the right amount of time to prepare for 2024 Olympics.”
The team's Tokyo Olympics exploits heralded a new era in Indian hockey. Explaining how the sport's popularity will gradually increase, Manpreet Singh said:
"I truly feel this is a new beginning for Indian hockey. With the women's team too doing so well at the Olympics, hockey is witnessing the same kind of support it once had. I was told many people from different professions woke up early to see our matches just like they would back in the glory days when Indian hockey fans would stay glued to the radio to hear the commentary."
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