Past struggles give me energy to strive for bigger achievements: Sumit

The 27-year-old is hoping to be a part of India’s Paris Olympics-bound squad, but he is unfazed by the intense competition for a spot in the final 16.

Published : May 03, 2024 12:53 IST , Bengaluru - 4 MINS READ

Sumit Kumar (left) will be part of the Indian team for the upcoming FIH Pro League beginning in Antwerp on May 22.
Sumit Kumar (left) will be part of the Indian team for the upcoming FIH Pro League beginning in Antwerp on May 22. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
infoIcon

Sumit Kumar (left) will be part of the Indian team for the upcoming FIH Pro League beginning in Antwerp on May 22. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sumit already has Olympic and Asian Games hockey medals in his cabinet, but more torrid memories are fuelling his dreams of adding another piece of metal into his glittering collection.

The 27-year-old is hoping to be a part of India’s Paris Olympics-bound squad, but he is unfazed by the intense competition for a spot in the final 16.

“There were bigger struggles in my life. As someone who went through tougher challenges in life, I keep remembering myself about my past.

“I have kept those memories with me and I get strong vibes from my tough past to move forward. It gives me an energy to strive for bigger achievements,” Sumit told PTI on the sidelines of the Indian team’s preparatory camp at the SAI centre here.

The Haryana player termed him getting dropped by then coach Graham Reid in 2021 as the biggest challenge he faced on the field.

After the Asian Champions Trophy that year, Sumit fell out of favour and was not picked for the subsequent Commonwealth Games and the World Cup at home.

The near two-year omission was tough for him, but Sumit said he never let the hope fade.

“I don’t often allow disappointments to creep into my mind. But it’s very tough for a player to get dropped from the team.

“I have had to go through those ups and downs in the last couple of years. But I love that challenge of making a comeback to the team.” However, Sumit admitted that going down the pecking order did have some adverse impact on his mind.

ALSO READ: FIH Pro-League 2023-24: Salima Tete to lead 24-member women’s team in European leg

“The biggest challenge (when he’s out of the team) is that you tend to feel that the coach does not trust you and your game too starts getting affected by such thoughts.

“I too felt the same way then, but the only thing I could do was to work hard on my game and push my case further,” he added.

He indeed upgraded his game, and now figures prominently in new coach Craig Fulton’s plans.

“Fulton has created a cordial atmosphere within the team. He values every player in the team, not just the seniors.

“He has established a nice connection with each player and he knows how to take the team along with him,” Sumit gushed.

Sumit said his focus is on the upcoming FIH Pro League matches at Antwerp, where India will begin its campaign from May 22.

“I am focusing on the Pro League matches. Those matches will be tough against some top teams, and I am preparing accordingly.” The midfielder said the opportunity to face top-flight opponents like Germany, Argentina and Belgium ahead of the Olympics will stand the team in good stead.

“Sometimes, we don’t get enough matches to prepare ahead of a big event. But here we have some good matches for preparation ahead of the Olympics.

“We will meet those teams (which are in the Pro-League) in Paris too. So, it’s an ideal preparation for the team.” India had recently suffered a 0-5 series defeat against Australia, but Sumit found positives in that setback.

“We have learned so many things from the tour to Australia despite losing 0-5. We now have better awareness about the changes that we need to make in our defence and attack. We are focusing on them in this camp,” he noted.

Sumit underscored the need to put better work on the team’s defence.

“We lost the first match very badly but from there we showed some improvements and other matches had close margins like 2-1, 3-2 etc. It told us how crucial it is to keep defence tight for the whole duration of the match. We are working on it,” he said.

With his preparations on track, Sumit hoped to make the cut for the Olympics.

“I am mentally ready for the Olympics. Hopefully, I can make the cut and I feel this time too we can end up on the podium.

“The team has not been announced yet for the Olympics, but I feel if we do well in the Pro League it will boost our confidence in Paris.”

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment