Indian women’s hockey team goalkeeper and captain Savita is taking the postponement of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou as an opportunity to train harder for the quadrennial showpiece continental event, quite like the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which too were postponed by a year.
Having already dealt with the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, which were rescheduled for 2021 due to the pandemic, the Indian team is once again faced with the same situation where the Asian Games have been postponed indefinitely.
But Savita expressed optimism, saying, “We will once again deal with this postponement as an opportunity to train and be better prepared for the Asian Games. The one-year postponement for the Olympics gave us significant time to improve and, personally for me, I got to work closely with (women’s head coach) Janneke (Schopman) who had a great impact on my improvement as a goalkeeper.”
Speaking about the team’s preparations here at the Sports Authority of India centre for the FIH Pro League matches in Europe and the World Cup in July, Savita said, “There is a lot of excitement ahead of the Pro League matches in Europe as well as the Women’s World Cup. Last time, we exited in the quarterfinals but this time we will do our best to finish in the top 4.”
India are scheduled to play hosts Belgium on June 11 and 12, followed by matches against Argentina on June 18 and 19 and the United States on June 21 and 22 in the FIH Pro League.
On the historic Olympic Games achievement, where the team finished fourth, Savita said, “No one expected we will go beyond the quarterfinals in the Olympic Games. Many of our supporters thought we would reach up to the quarterfinals at the outset, but I don’t think anyone believed we could win the quarterfinals. This zeal to win and not to give up till the last second of the match was inculcated by our coaching staff. We had to, and we knew we would change the script of Tokyo.
“Having finished fourth in Tokyo, everyone took notice of us. Earlier, there were expectations from the men’s team only. But now, people expect the women also to finish in top three in any tournament we play and that is good for the sport,” added the experienced goalkeeper.
(Inputs from IANS)