What's the story?
Indian Men's Hockey team captain Manpreet Singh is confident of helping the team to a good show at the 2020 Summer Olympics and dreams of helping the country win a medal at the prestigious event in Tokyo.
Manpreet Singh recently made history when he became the first Indian player to bag the coveted FIH Player of the Award for the year 2019. He had 35.2 % votes overall. These included 53% votes from all the national associations, 15.1% of all fan/player votes, and 19.5 % of all media votes. The Indian skipper plays as a midfielder and has over 260 international caps to his name. Singh won the award ahead of star players such as Arthur van Doren and Lucas Vila.
The heart of the matter
India has not won an Olympic medal in hockey for 40 years. The last medal was the gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Manpreet Singh aims to end this medal drought at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, India had finished at a disappointing 8th position. However, a lot has changed in the team since then and the captain is optimistic of a podium finish in Tokyo.
Speaking to IANS on India's hopes, Singh said:
"We do not like to look too much into past records; every game is a new learning curve. We are going into the Olympics with a positive frame of mind and a good run of results."
India's front line has been excellent in the recent past but there are still things that need to be worked upon in the defense. The 27-year old further added
"We are confident going into the Olympics in Tokyo. We managed to get the better of current World Champions Belgium which is an indication that we are going into the tournament with a lot of positivity. We will try our best to play good hockey on the pitch and try to win a medal at the Olympics."
The Jalandhar-born player also spoke highly of India's head coach Graham Reid. The Australian has taught them 'to achieve something' whenever the Indian team enters the opposition's circle, be it a 'penalty corner or a goal'.
India had a disappointing outing at the 2018 World Cup as they were knocked out by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. However, Manpreet and co. managed to clinch a bronze medal at the 2018 Asiad. The Indian team qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games after Manpreet Singh led the team to victory at the FIH Olympic qualifiers last year.
The national men's hockey team is currently playing in the FIH Pro League. The Graham Reid-coached unit has performed well and won two matches against the Netherlands as well as a match against World Champions Belgium. They are placed 2nd on the table behind Belgium, who have played two matches more than India.
The 2019 FIH Player of the year will be looking to continue to lead the team to good perforamances so that they can head to Tokyo Olympics 2020 full of confidence. The Indian team will be up against Australia in their next FIH Pro League match on 21 February.