As a lead-up to the one year countdown of the Tokyo Olympics 2021, Hockey India in its self authored columns features Indian Men's Hockey Team's former captain Sardar Singh.
Looking back at my career that spanned over a decade, there have been some very memorable matches. Leading the Indian Team to the 2014 Asian Games Gold, the first in 16 years, will always be on top of that list not just because it was historic and beating Pakistan in a Final is always an icing on the cake, this win set off a new beginning for the Indian Men's Hockey Team. In 2014, we were on the cusp of greater things to come and there was no looking back.
My journey in hockey has been rather satisfying because I was part of that era which saw a resurgence. We came a long way from finishing last at the London Olympics in 2012 to being ranked No.6 in the World when I hung up my boots in 2018. Now, the current team is poised at No.4 in the World Rankings which should definitely bring a lot of confidence to this team in the lead up to their Tokyo Olympic campaign.
Having played 314 International Matches, I will always regret not being able to add an Olympic Medal on the wall back home. But watching this team grow from strength to strength in the past year and the way they played the FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this year, I have great hope that they can bag that elusive Olympic Medal. They definitely have a realistic chance in Tokyo.
The next one year will be extremely critical for this team. They have the time to build on the new talent that is available. Some of the youngsters like Rajkumar, Dilpreet, Vivek Sagar, Gursahib have shown great promise and trying them in big-match scenarios like the Pro League was a good decision by Chief Coach Graham Reid. With the Olympics being postponed, we have the time to work on our short-comings. Converting chances continues to be one of the grey areas but I feel we have been finishing much better than we were two or three years ago. Good matches in the Pro League next year against Argentina, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and New Zealand should set the ball rolling for us and this will definitely be a good litmus test before the Olympic campaign begins.
For now, I understand these are trying times for all sports persons in India with the Covid-19 pandemic posing several challenges to the Olympic preparations but my advice to the Indian Hockey Core Probables, Men and Women, is to remain focused on their goal. Playing the Olympic Games for India should be the single most motivating factor for each and every athlete and they must channel their efforts to be the best they can be ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games."
- Sardar Singh, Former Captain, Indian Men's Hockey Team