Drag-flicker Varun Kumar targets India comeback after break

The Indian hockey team was held up at Bengaluru’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex for more than two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Varun Kumar receives the man-of-the-match award after the Men's Hockey World Cup Group C match between India and Belgium at Kalinga Stadium.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Drag-flicker Varun Kumar believes that the Indian hockey team’s one-month break from the sport will help the players recharge their batteries for the challenges ahead, the major one being next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The Indian hockey team was held up at Bengaluru’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex for more than two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The players were recently given a month’s break after lockdown restrictions were eased.

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“I see this period at home as one where we will get the chance to rejuvenate ourselves, and restart everything from scratch keeping in mind that we need to be peaking during the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to start in July 2021,” Varun said.

“It’s not always about how fresh you are physically, but there is also a lot of focus on mental aspects.

“I feel this break has provided us with the opportunity to rest our minds, by spending some quality time with our families. This really helps you in just taking your mind off the sport sometimes,” the 24-year-old added.

The 2016 Junior Cup-winning defender could not play in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers last year due to nerve damage to his right arm.

He has not represented the country since recuperating and recovering from the minor injury.

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“It is definitely difficult for me because I haven’t been able to make the comeback to competitive hockey yet, but as things stand, everyone’s safety and health takes centre-stage,” he said.

“I am just being very patient and making sure that I am maintaining my fitness levels so that once we resume the sport, I can get into the rhythm of playing very soon.”

Varun said lifting the Junior World Cup in Lucknow remains his fondest sporting moment till date.

“During the lockdown, I have had the chance to reflect on my journey with the Indian team, and I feel really proud to have won the Junior World Cup in 2016, it was one of the best moments of my playing career,” he said.

“I haven’t really had the chance to reflect, but it was good to really sit with people like Krishan (Pathak), Harmanpreet (Singh) and Mandeep (Singh) who experienced that journey with me.

“We have spoken about how far we have since then, and it just gives you more confidence to achieve greater things for your country in future,” he said.

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