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India’s Hockey Heroes Inspire Olympic Dream, Says PR Sreejesh

India’s hockey crew can be impressed of their bid for Olympic glory by the heroes of the game who misplaced their lives within the coronavirus pandemic, says goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

India as soon as dominated males’s subject hockey, profitable eight Olympic golds between 1928 and 1980, however have since didn’t win a single medal of any color.

India are nonetheless Asia’s high crew however are actually ranked fourth on the earth behind Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The crew feels the burden of historical past.

Two members of India’s final Olympic gold medal-winning crew, Ravindra Pal Singh and Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, died from Covid on the identical day in May.

Keshav Datt, who was a part of profitable groups in 1948 and 1952, died final week however his dying was because of age-related sickness.

“Those heroes had been at all times there in our coronary heart and they are going to be there,” Sreejesh informed AFP.

“It’s a tribute to them once we are heading to the Tokyo Olympics. This is the time to recollect their laborious work, their contribution to Indian hockey.

“And they created historical past for us, they introduced loads of glory for us. So that is the least we are able to do, to play higher hockey within the Tokyo Olympics.”

– Hockey heroes –

Hockey greats Dhyan Chand and KD Singh Babu had been the celebs as India gained six straight Olympic tournaments between 1928 and 1956.

Five of their eight triumphs got here after India’s independence from British rule in 1947.

Sreejesh, who can be showing at a 3rd Olympics, stated India’s wealthy hockey historical past provides the crew, underneath coach Graham Reid and captain Manpreet Singh, added inspiration.

“That historical past provides you braveness,” said the 33-year-old. “We should believe in that, look at our history, take inspiration from that and just go and play our best in Tokyo.”

The Sreejesh-led Indian crew crashed out within the quarter-finals on the 2016 Rio Olympics, however the veteran goalkeeper believes the crew is best ready now.

“The expertise provides you extra confidence and the preparation provides you the power to face any Olympic occasion,” he stated.

Sreejesh stated the time misplaced to pandemic lockdowns had additionally made the gamers’ resolve stronger.

“We had been caught within the coaching centre and had been in a bio-bubble,” he stated.

“But now, heading into the Olympics, I really feel that the entire sacrifice we made over the past one-and-a-half years goes to assist us as a result of life taught us how one can drive this.”

Sreejesh stated the crew is aiming for a medal however will take “one sport at a time” in Tokyo.

“When the Olympics are close to then there is only one dream, to be a part of historical past, so sooner or later, the children, the individuals discuss that there was one hockey crew in 2021 who performed the Tokyo Olympics and there was a goalkeeper whose identify was Sreejesh.

“I simply wish to hear that so my children and fogeys can be proud and say that’s my dad standing on the podium.”

Hockey stays India’s nationwide sport however has slipped within the reputation stakes behind cricket, which may boast glamour and riches.

But Sreejesh believes competitors from cricket will solely drive hockey gamers as they try and make their manner again into followers’ hearts with some assist from TV.

“I generally really feel the followers usually are not capable of watch hockey sufficient as there may be much less telecast on TV,” stated Sreejesh.

“But if someone is there in entrance of you then there may be additional power to chase them, to combat with them or get degree with them. I feel cricket helps us to enhance.

“We will combat to win and our medals will assist our sport achieve extra consideration and extra recognition. And I hope sooner or later our efficiency will entice lot of children to the sport of hockey.”

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