Manpreet confident of India's chances at Olympics, Rani relieved after COVID recovery

"We believe we have the best chance to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics and this belief is keeping everyone optimistic," Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh said.

Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal

Indian national hockey team skippers Manpreet Singh (men's) and Rani Rampal (women's) are both determined to lead their sides to glory at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (File Photo).   -  The Hindu

The Indian men's hockey team is clocking long hours in the sun to be ready for the heat and humidity that awaits it in Tokyo during this year's Olympics, says skipper Manpreet Singh who is confident that his team will peak at just the right time.

India has won eight Olympic gold medals in the past, but its last top finish came way back at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"We strongly believe we have the best chance to win a medal at the Olympics and this belief is keeping everyone motivated and optimistic," Manpreet said on the occasion of the 75-day countdown for the Tokyo Olympics which opens on July 23.

"Our training has been planned in such a manner that we peak at the right time and also we are clocking long hours in the sun to get our bodies acclimatised to the hot conditions in Tokyo."

The captain, however, said that the postponement of the FIH Pro League matches against Germany and Spain due to coronavirus has been a big setback for the team.

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"When the FIH Pro League matches against Germany and Spain too were postponed, we were extremely disappointed because those matches would have certainly helped in our preparations. But we understand these are really unprecedented times, and there are travel restrictions in place," Manpreet added.

Meanwhile, Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal is relieved that all seven players, who had tested positive for COVID-19 recently, will resume training from next week after recovering from the deadly virus.

Rani and six other players, including Savita Punia, Sharmila Devi, Rajani, Navjot Kaur, Navneet Kaur and Sushila had tested positive for the virus upon their arrival in Bengaluru for the national camp after a 10-day break.

Besides the players and two support staff, video analyst Amrutaprakash and scientific advisor Wayne Lombard had also contracted the virus and have now recovered.

"We are relieved that all those players who had tested positive are all doing fine and have geared up to resume training. We are taking all precautions on campus so that we stay healthy and injury-free in the lead up to the Games," Rani claimed.

"Despite these setbacks, we will continue to pursue our goal of doing well in Tokyo. The next 75 days are crucial, and we are upbeat as a group."

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