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Interview with Rupinder Pal Singh: Team now knows feeling of winning major tournament medals

The Indian hockey star was bullish about bagging a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Rupinder Pal Singh
Rupinder Pal Singh in an earlier competition

Rupinder Pal Singh is a vital cog in the Indian defence. The 24-year-old Faridkot lad is not only well known for his power-packed drag-flicks but also for his shrewd defending skills. The burly fullback returned to the national side for the Six Nation Invitational Tourney in Spain after being rested for the Champions Trophy.

The Indian Overseas Bank employee spoke about his drag-flick skills and much more in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts:

Q How would you sum up India’s campaign in the Six Nation Invitational Tourney in Spain?

I think it was a solid exposure for all of us ahead of the Olympics – the entire team fought well in all games and surely we will be richer with the experience. The outcome of the games was not very important though winning is a good habit to have. Overall it will serve us well for the Olympic preparations.

Q You were rested for the Champions Trophy before you were called up for the Six Nation Invitational Tourney in Spain. You must have enjoyed your break.

Such breaks are always nice for any player but I was training each day at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru.

Q You must be elated to see how our defence is showing a marked improvement – our efforts in the Champions Trophy was outstanding.

Our boys have worked really hard at our national camps and all that hard work are beginning to pay off. Our defence denied Australia from scoring in 60 minutes of play in the Champions Trophy final – it was a massive effort from the team and our defence deserves praise for that.

Q India have the luxury of so many drag-flickers – how would all complement each other?

I think we have a hugely talented bunch of drag-flickers – we always try to help each other – it does not matter whether anyone is senior or junior. I try to take pointers from Raghubhai (Vokkaliga Raghunath)and at the same time can learn a thing or two from somebody like Harmanpreet. It’s all about playing as a unit.  

Q Every drag-flicker has his own way of going about his business – how you or even Raghunath or anyone else try to be different in the way you execute your flicks? 

It’s about looking for the angles – at times we try to look for the right or left corner or go even straight. At times, I try the aerial flick. As for Raghubhai, he is very good at ‘faking’ the goalkeeper. Every drag-flicker has his style of executing them.

Q Medals at two FIH events – Hockey World League and Champions Trophy – must convince you guys that India can bag a medal at the Rio Olympics.

The one things the boys knows what it feels to win a medal in a major FIH Tournament – we did it in Raipur and then in London; obviously, there is a lot of self-belief in this side and we can only go places in future.

Q What would be your realistic assessment of India’s medal-winning chances in Rio?

We will have to take it match by match and first make it to the quarterfinals – once we are in the last eight stage anything can happen as it is a knockout format from thereon.

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