Pillay: I still regret not winning an Olympic Medal

The four-time Olympian has two sets of advice to India's hockey stars: remain injury-free and don’t get swayed by the presence of stalwarts in the Olympic village.

The four—time World Cupper who also who represented the country in four Asian Games, complimented the team for the fitness level it has shown and also gave credit to the team’s Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans.   -  PTI

He is as ecstatic as any other Indian hockey fan with the Men in Blue’s silver medal-winning performance in the recently-concluded Champions Trophy in London. But Dhanraj Pillay, the four-time Olympian, has two sets of advice to India’s hockey stars ahead of the biggest test, the Olympics: remain injury-free and don’t get swayed by the presence of stalwarts in the Olympic village.

“My advice to all the players is to watch out for injuries. With barely a month to go for the Olympics, all the players should ensure they are injury-free leading into the Olympics,” Pillay told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the Mumbai Super League, a local table tennis league in which he has bought a stake in a team. “Even if one player gets injured, the whole balance of the team goes for a toss, so I would hope them to keep fit for this whole month.”

Read: >Dhanraj Pillay buys team in Mumbai TT League

Recalling his first Olympics sojourn in 1992, Pillay also cautioned the hockey players to remain focussed on their game in the Olympic Village. “Once you enter the Olympics village – there would be 15,000-odd athletes, 10,000-odd officials – don’t get bogged down by that,” he said.

“You will see scores of legendary athletes, don’t get overawed by them. I remember when I played my first Olympics in 1992, some of us would forget our training regime to watch Carl Lewis train. Or when the US Dream Team (basketball) would enter the dining arena. It tends to happen but I would advise Indian athletes to focus on their goals. Once you do that, you will be fine.”

Pillay’s four Olympics appearances turned out to be disappointing campaigns for India. And the former India captain reiterated not winning an Olympic medal was the biggest regret of his life. But he hoped the tide will turn in India’s favour in Rio in August.

“I played four Olympics and was desperate to finish on the podium at least once. It couldn’t happen. I hope this team does it. The squad is still not announced but I am sure this group has it in them to return from Rio as a successful bunch,” he said.

“The Champions Trophy was the most ideal opportunity to get some confidence with just a month and half remaining for the Olympics. And India has done exceedingly well by storming into the final. I am sure India will do us proud in Rio.”