India will be one of the strongest contenders for a medal in men’s hockey tournament of the Olympic Games if they display mental toughness in ample measure, says Roelant Oltmans, Dutch hockey tactician and former India men’s coach.
“For me, the Indian men’s hockey team is among the top five contenders to win a medal in Tokyo. The team has shown good consistency in competing with the best teams in the world over the last two years,” said Oltmans, who was the chief coach of the Indian team that reached the 2016 Rio Olympics quarter-finals.
“India has already shown they can beat teams like Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, doing it at the Olympics will be a different matter. The decisive factor when you are trying to win such a tournament is the mentality of the team. You cannot panic if you are behind in a game or get overexcited when you are ahead. You have to be in control of each situation,” said Oltmans, 67.
Oltmans, who has also coached the Pakistan hockey team twice, said that the weather conditions would also be a key factor at the Olympics, as Tokyo is expected to be high on humidity.
“In terms of physical fitness, all the top teams in the world are at the same level so no team has an obvious advantage, but the weather conditions will be more favourable for India as they are used to that type of climate. The weather will definitely be harsher for the European teams, and they will have to adjust to it,” he said.
Oltmans believes that the team has made headway since 2016 Olympics, where it finished eighth.
“Preparing the team to secure a medal in the Tokyo Olympics was always the main objective since I joined as high performance director at Hockey India in 2013, and then became chief coach of the men’s team in 2015,” he said.
“India has made progress in that regard with their current standing, You need a good development plan, but you also need the resources to execute a plan. Hockey India and the Sports Authority of India have played a big part in creating and executing this plan.”