Olympic champions are not created overnight and the Indian women’s hockey team has taken long strides in this direction, following a well-defined process, captain Rani Rampal assured on Thursday and acknowledged that her balanced side is good enough to challenge the best. during the Tokyo Games.
The Indian women’s team competed in the 2016 Olympics after a 36-year gap, but was eliminated in the group stage with four losses and a draw against Japan.
Rani said they are a much better group now.
“No team becomes Olympic champions overnight. They definitely started somewhere. We are also part of the process. The coach and staff work well for this mission,” Rani said during a virtual press conference.
“People used to think we weren’t a game with European teams. If you see our team in the last four or five years, we’re no less fitness than any other team.”
Placed in heavyweight pool A, the Indian team will start its Olympic campaign against the world’s top country, the Netherlands, on July 24, before taking over Germany (3rd place), Great Britain (5th) and Ireland (9th). ), which are ranked higher in 10th place in India.
South Africa, at number 16, is the only country with a lower rating than India.
“Everyone is really excited. We have been working on this for years. We have a good combination of youth and experience and each player has some quality. Our coaches have made some good choices in the team. We have a balanced side in all three departments.”
The Indian captain said it was not easy to prepare the team physically and mentally when the Games were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the skipper herself contracted the infection, along with her six teammates and two support staff members.
“It’s not easy for an athlete to push physically and mentally during this extra year. It was a big mental challenge during COVID.
“Usually you get mentally upset, but the coach helped us a lot to deal with a problem 24×7, on a personal or physical level. The coach works hard to live the present moment. He helped the team a lot,” she said.
Rani will lead a 16-member country that has eight members from the Rio team.
“We are very excited to go to our second consecutive Olympics and we are sure we will do well.”
“It’s going to be a different Olympics. It’s not going to be normal. But we can’t help much on the issue, we have to follow the protocols. We will have a greater individual responsibility to be safe, because if I stay safe, my team members too they will be safe. “
India’s deputy captain and trustee Savita said their latest Olympic experience would be useful.
“Of course, we were happy last time to qualify after 36 years, but we lacked experience at that level. We thought a lot about the ranking.
“We still have respect for the opponent’s standings, but we are aware of our strengths, we will go game by game and give our best every time. We do not want to justify ourselves for the Olympic Games. We are ready for anything. . “
Earlier this year, the Indian Eve had two much-needed trips to Argentina and Germany.
While without a win in Argentina with three draws and four losses, they lost all their matches in Germany.
“Whenever we play a higher ranked nation, it boosts our confidence. Even last year we played against England, we learned a lot from that experience and we would like to move it forward,” Savita said.
The other deputy captain, Deep Grace Ekka, said he did not want to recall his experience at the Rio Olympics.
“I don’t want to remember it. This time I have a lot of hope, we work very hard in the camp and the elderly are very motivated,” she said.