Consistently in and out of the side, SK Uthappa has learnt to take everything in his stride and always look to stay positive and raise the performance bar. The 23-year-old Coorg lad, who made his senior international debut against South Africa in a Test series in 2012 and even scored on his debut, is coping with a groin injury and will miss the upcoming three-Test series against Australia as well as the Hockey World League Final Round Event. Uthappa spoke about his game and much more in an exclusive interview.
Q: How disappointing it is to miss the upcoming three-Test series against Australia as well as the Hockey World League Final Round Event?
A: It is disappointing to give these big events a miss. I’m not fully fit as I’m carrying a groin injury, which will take some time to heal.
Q: How serious is the nature of your groin injury?
A: The injury is not very serious and I hope to hit the training drills in one week or so. Ideally, I’m looking at the 2016 Hero Hockey India League as my comeback tournament. Keeping fingers crossed.
Q: You made your senior international debut against South Africa in a Test series in January 2012 and even scored a goal on your debut.
A: Making my senior international debut was a dream-come-true moment for me as every player aspires to play for the country. I scored in the fourth Test, which we won 4-3 as it helped us win the five-Test series 3-1. Scoring on my debut was like an icing on the cake for me.
Q: Ever since you made your senior international debut against South Africa in a Test series in January 2012, you have been in and out of the national side. How difficult is it to stage comebacks?
A: Comebacks are not easy, but I take every axing in my stride and try to keep working hard.
Q: Indian team have been showing rapid progress in recent times – you were part of the team beat New Zealand 2-1 in a four Test series. Your thoughts.
A: The Indian team is raising the performance bar all the time and the Test series win over New Zealand in their own backyard was a huge effort from the boys. I think the team is looking good to give all top teams a run for their money.
Q: You must be happy to know that you were part of the Indian team that defeated two higher-ranked sides – New Zealand and Australia in two Test series, both away from home.
A: Beating good teams in their own backyard makes it more special. Beating world champions Australia 3-1 in a four Test series was a fabulous effort – I also scored in the final Test match. New Zealand is also a quality side and surely the confidence of the team will be high since there is always more to gain from playing top teams.
Q: You started off as a forward in the Indian team but now play as a midfielder.
A: Look, I have always played as a midfielder at the national level and when I first joined the national team I played as a forward. I’m comfortable in performing both roles.
Q: You are employed with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) – a formidable outfit in the national circuit having a slew of international players.
A: I feel good to represent IOC as they are one of the top teams in the domestic hockey circuit. The kind of experience our sides possess really stands us in good stead in all events.
Q As a hockey player what is that one thing you want to achieve?
A: I want to win an Olympic medal for the country – it will be great if I can be part of the national team that makes a podium finish at the Olympics.