Post Champions Trophy silver, hockey team focus on Rio

New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) Fresh from the Champions Trophy silver, Indian hockey team goalkeeper P.R Sreejesh on Tuesday said the team is now all geared up for producing another brilliant show at Rio.

Sreejesh, who captained the side in the Champions Trophy said he is proud of the achievement and is now fully focussed on the Olympics, starting from August 5.

“We are proud of our achievement. We are also grateful and overwhelmed by the support we have received from home. After a long tour, now we are focussed on the Rio Games. We want to ensure a strong showing in Rio so that we can make our supporters proud,” Sreejesh said after the team’s arrival here.

“We will have a few days break to rejuvenate ourselves before we resume the camp at SAI Bengaluru and get ready for Rio.”

The silver medal winning feat last month in London was India’s best ever performance in the Champions Trophy, surpassing the bronze medal finish in the 1982 edition of the tournament but head coach Roelant Oltmans feels its on the backburner and the target is Rio.

“Our aim was always to win a medal at the Champions Trophy. We have achieved that. It is on the backburner now. We have to look ahead and focus on the Olympics,” Oltmans said.

The Indian hockey team returned home earlier in the day after a strong showing at the six-nation invitational tournament in Valencia and a silver medal finish in the Champions Trophy, which has propelled it to No.5 spot in the world rankings.

“The team deserves a much needed break after all the hard work, and then, very soon, it will be back to the grind as we sharpen up for the all-important Olympic Games,” Oltmans said.

India finished fifth in the six-nations Invitational Tournament in Valencia after drawing 1-1 against hosts Spain in their final match.

Fielding an experimental team, which featured a lot of young faces making their debut in the Champions Trophy, India scored 10 goals in the tournament.

Defence was the key factor in their march to the final as they conceded the second least goals in the tournament (11) behind eventual champions Australia.

Harmanpreet Singh was named the best upcoming player of the tournament.

“This was a great opportunity for me to play with the senior team and to learn so much from them. Playing the 16-member Olympic format was challenging but also helped us gauge what we learnt at the training. It ensured we are physically prepared for all scenarios, and that we are in peak shape as a unit ahead of the Olympics,” Harmanpreet said.

–IANS

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