The eagerness among fans to watch the Indian hockey team achieve success at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 is palpable.
Expressing excitement ahead of the Summer Games, Olympian Tushar Khandker said the Indian hockey team has the mettle to go the distance.
In a free-wheeling conversation with Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Olympic Games, Tushar mentioned:
"I am definitely excited to watch the Olympics. I feel the way the team is doing right now; they are a strong contender for a medal."
Indian hockey has learnt from past mistakes: Tushar Khandker
Tushar Khandker added that India's past experiences have served as important lessons and the players now understand that mistakes can prove to be fatal in big-ticket events. He said:
"We have learnt from each of the Olympic Games. While we didn't qualify in 2008, we finished 12th in London and eighth in Rio. We have learned from the mistakes we made in 2012, and players of the Indian hockey team who were a part of the London Olympics like Sreejesh, Manpreet, Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Raghunath (and others) who also got to play in Rio have told themselves the Indian hockey 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."
Tushar, who was part of the Indian hockey team between 2014 and 2016 as an Assistant Coach, believes the current squad has raised the bar in many aspects.
"I feel the current team has raised their level of play and they have developed a sense of self belief that they can do well against top teams in the world. After a slump in 2008-09, it has taken us close to a decade to come to the level we are at now," said the former India forward, who made his international debut in 2003.
The former international also credited the Indian hockey team's steady growth at the world stage to 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," Tushar opined.