The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics was a development which was difficult for players to wrap their heads around in the beginning but have now adjusted to, says Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal.
The core probables for the national men’s and women’s hockey teams are currently at Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Bengaluru facility.
“We have only started doing very light activities,” Rani told IANS. “It has been a long time since anyone played hockey, so the coaches have developed a program that would allow us to start slow and get back into the groove.
“We have done fitness exercises over the past few months but then the strain that falls on the body on the pitch is different and that is something we will slowly build up towards.”
Before the players returned to Bengaluru for the camp earlier this month, they had been at their respective homes since mid-June after being stuck at the centre for over four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.
“That was quite difficult. We were here for four months, away from our families. But the good part was that we were in a safe environment,” said Rani.
“There was a lot of panic outside with people not being allowed to get out of their homes.But we were protected from all that inside the campus. We had space here to roam around which is not something people on the outside had. These were all advantages.
“The Olympics were postponed which was disheartening. We players work a lot throughout the four years and then when it gets postponed suddenly, that means we have to push ourselves mentally and physically for another year in the same manner.
“Positive side of course was that we got another year to prepare for it and it is something that has happened to the entire world and not just the Indian team.
“Now we have adjusted to the postponement. Everyone has made a mindset of being prepared for the Olympics happening next year.”
Rani, who will be conferred with the prestigious Khel Ratna Award this year, further said that the senior players took up the responsibility of making the youngsters in the squad aware of the importance of the safety measures being taken and more importantly, keeping them focussed on the task at hand.
“It is a responsibility for us senior players to set a good example for the youngsters in the team. We also have to tell them of the importance of staying healthy during the pandemic. When we are young we tend to take things lightly and it is only with experience do you know what is important and what not,” she said.
“I always tried to keep the players mindful of what our mission is over here. Our purpose here is to win an Olympic medal and this is something I keep reminding everyone so that they remain focussed.”