New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The recently concluded Hockey Olympic qualifiers saw both the Indian men’s and women’s teams secure their respective berths in next year’s Olympic Games and one man who had an extra reason to celebrate was the men’s team drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh. The player returned to the national team after a long lay-off and his performances in the two matches helped the team in defeating Russia 11-3 on aggregate.
The 28-year-old defender spoke about his return to the Indian team. “It was an amazing feeling to be back in the India blue after having missed out on some major tournaments last year. I was determined to perform well for my team, and make sure that we secured our place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Russia gave us a tough fight, but we showed our quality in the end and secured the two wins. The comeback was good for me, and it now gives me a lot of confidence to do better in the upcoming season,” said Rupinder.
Looking forward to the Indian men’s team’s prospects of playing in the FIH Pro League for the first time early next year, the experienced drag-flicker said it will be a good test for his side. “The FIH Pro League was a great success in its first edition, and we are all very excited to be a part of it next year. These matches will be a great test for us, especially playing against the best teams from around the world. We will be hosting as well as touring and I can’t wait to start our preparations for the same,” he said.
“Our aim was to make sure we qualified for the Olympics, and now that we have secured our place, it is now time to put everything into preparing for the Olympic Games. We have nine months to prepare for the quadrennial event, and playing in the FIH Pro League will serve as good preparation for us. We will be able to determine where we stand against the top teams, and we will have enough time to make improvements and corrections in our game leading up to the Olympics,” said the drag-flicker from Faridkot, Punjab.
The Indian men’s team is scheduled to return for the next camp on November 18 in Bhubaneswar as they look to focus on their fitness ahead of next year’s FIH Pro League.