Savita: Indian team still feels the pain of missing Olympic medal

Savita says her team will leave no stone unturned to finish on the podium in the World Cup in July.

Savita Punia..."Our mission of winning an Olympic medal for the country is still incomplete; we will not rest until then."   -  THE HINDU

Savita, the captain of the Indian women’s hockey team, says the Tokyo Games continues to remind it of its unaccomplished mission - a podium finish in the Olympics.

India finished fourth at the Tokyo Games last year.

“We still feel the pain of missing an Olympic medal by a whisker and it reminds us every moment that our mission of winning an Olympic medal for the country is still incomplete. We will not rest until then. Everyone said that we won hearts in Tokyo but a medal is a medal after all. Only we can feel the pain of not winning a medal despite coming so near. That pain still hurts us,” Savita told PTI from Bengaluru.

The Indian team is all geared up for the World Cup to be held in Spain and the Netherlands from July 1.

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Before that, the Indians will play away matches against Belgium, Argentina, the Netherlands and USA in the FIH Pro League.

Savita said her team will leave no stone unturned to finish on the podium in the World Cup. India is clubbed alongside England, China and New Zealand in Pool B. “Almost all the teams have that played in the Olympics will be part of the World Cup. We will try to finish on the podium, which will be a morale booster for us before 2024 Paris Olympics,” the goalkeeper said.

‘A great platform’

She feels FIH Pro League matches against quality teams will be a good preparation for India ahead of the World Cup.

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“European teams keep playing against each other but for us FIH Pro League is one great opportunity to play some of the top teams before the World Cup. It will be a great platform to judge ourselves against the best teams,” Savita said.

The fourth-place finish in Tokyo has brought women’s hockey into limelight, feels Savita. “....people's attitude towards women’s hockey has changed. They now wait for our matches and appreciate our performances. A new level of confidence, attitude and passion can be seen among the players too,” she said.

“Every player is now aware of her role in the team. Coach Janneke Schopman has been an Olympian herself and has set high standards for us. She expects the best from everyone. She says that mistakes are bound to happen but we must not give up.”

The Indian team has attained career-best sixth spot in the recently-released world rankings and Savita says it proves the game is going in the right direction in the country. “Whatever we are today is because of this game. We will keep working hard to maintain the standard. We cannot take any team lightly in the World Cup and work hard to do our best,” said Savita, who considers men’s team custodian P. R. Sreejesh as her idol.

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