Bengaluru, April 13 (IANS) Veteran Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh has been left disappointed with the postponement of Tokyo Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic which has wreaked havoc across the world.
India last won a gold in Hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish. And after qualifying for the Tokyo Games, the team was in high spirits and were looking forward to end the medal drought.
However, their dream remains unfulfilled for now as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has postponed the Games to summer 2021.
“It’s disappointing that the Olympics has been postponed. We have been focussing only on the Olympics in the last one year. We qualified for the Olympics and started very well at the FIH Hockey Pro League, but then the COVID-19 crisis began and everything changed,” Sreejesh told IANS in an exclusive interview.
“It’s disappointing that the Olympics has been postponed but when you take the health and safety of the players into consideration, the best thing to do is to postpone the Games instead of cancelling it,” he added.
Sreejesh further said that despite the postponement, the team is making sure they remain focussed on their target of making a podium finish at the Olympics.
“Everyone is preparing mentally for the Olympics. We need to focus, work really hard from Day 1 and we need to focus for 365-400 days to achieve something. The schedule for the next tournament is not confirmed yet.
“We need to keep ourselves fit at the moment and not worry about what is going to happen in one year. So now we have to focus on general fitness drills and stay in the present. We can’t change what is not in our control,” he said.
The Indian goalie further said that when they came to know about tournaments getting postponed or cancelled, the trainers and the coaching staff reduced the load in the training plan.
Amid the lockdown, the team is currently at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru wherein they are making sure they stay fit.
“The players are carrying out general fitness drill and bodyweight exercises in our rooms. We are trying to do all exercises in a group of two and avoid contact with people as much as we can,” he said.
Sreejesh also said that the team is currently conducting post-mortems of their previous games in order to find the shortcomings and work on it.
“We are carrying out post-mortem for our previous matches. There is a software called My PTA, wherein we can analyse our previous matches. We watch the videos in our rooms and give our feedback. We answer questions online given to us by the coaches. That’s what we are doing to stay in touch with hockey,” the veteran hockey player said.
With minimal physical activities being allowed, the players do miss going out on weekends to distract themselves for the hard training schedule which they would otherwise do in normal circumstances.
“Everyone knows the situation now, rather than worrying about the situation, everyone is trying to understand the situation. The players are really matured and are following all instructions by the Prime Minister, coaching staff and the authorities at SAI. That’s the positive sign shown by the players.
“Everyone is being distant from each other. We keep a distance in the canteen and only two persons sit at one table. We are doing everything in a very hygienic way so that none of us get infected,” he added.
The 31-year-old also urged countrymen to take up responsibility on individual level and make sure they adhere to the guidelines issued by the government in such time of crisis.
“My message to the people is that this situation is not about anyone else, it’s about us. Sometimes we say that this is not my responsibility, it’s someone else’s responsibility. This time it’s my responsibility to keep away from the coronavirus and help others to stay away from the infection,” he said.
“Personal hygiene is the best away to prevent this virus and it’s most important to stay indoors.”