India now a stronger side than in Rio 2016 - Savita

If the Indian team plays to its potential, it could win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, says goalkeeper Savita.

Savita..."I think we have a great chance of making history at the Tokyo Olympics." - HOCKEY INDIA

The Indian women’s hockey team is a much stronger team now than it was in 2016 when it participated in the Rio Olympics, according to goalkeeper Savita. Reflecting on India’s campaign at the Olympics four years ago in a column for Hockey India, Savita said the team was too raw then, and made some mistakes during the competition.

“I feel our team was raw at that time and we made a few mistakes. Now, we have a much stronger side and I am sure we will be able to put the nightmare in Rio behind us. The experience at the Olympic Games will certainly hold us in good stead for the next one in Tokyo,” she said.

“We have certainly changed the way we operate on and off the field since the 2016 Olympics. We have recorded great victories in the last four years which includes Asia Cup 2017 and FIH Women's Series Finals Hiroshima 2019,” she said.

Memorable contest

Looking back on the victory against USA in November, 2019, which handed India a berth for Tokyo, she said, “It was absolutely amazing to book a berth at the Tokyo Olympics through the FIH Olympic Qualifiers 2019 in front of our home crowd. We desperately needed one goal in the second leg match against USA and Rani stepped up for us once again in the last quarter of the match. We never stopped believing in ourselves and that was the key aspect in our game on that day.”

Savita said her performance against Japan during the Women’s Hockey World League Semifinal gave her the confidence of being able to take on any team in the world.

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“I attained a lot of confidence after the match against Japan for fifth place at the Women's Hockey World League Semi Final in Antwerp in 2015. Japan created many chances to score, but I held my ground and managed to save everything that came my way. I will never forget that match. I was in the zone and felt that I could take on any team anywhere in the world. I had no fear inside me at all. We won the game 1-0, courtesy of Rani's strike, and that victory eventually helped us qualify for the Rio Olympics,” she recalled.

‘Strong belief’

Weighing in on India’s chances of winning a medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, she said, “I think we have a great chance to make history at the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good mix of experience and youngsters in our side and all our bases are covered. We have competed against top teams in the recent past and we have a strong belief in our abilities. If we play to our potential, we will surely win a medal for India at the Olympics next year.”

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