The midfielder won FIH Junior Men’s World Cup with the Indian team in 2016.

Having begun the year on a positive note with confidence-invoking performance against the World’s top 3 teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League, the Indian Men’s Hockey team had set course to what would have been a memorable outing at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I remember when we won the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2014 and steadily kept improving performance in the lead up to the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup in 2016, the team had started believing that we can win the Gold,” stated India midfielder Sumit, who was also part of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning squad.

“That self-belief and attitude are what eventually helped us win the title. We felt that same belief after performing well against the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. Every single player in the core group believes we can finish top 3 in the Olympics,”

He recalled that the team was in the middle of intense training when the nation-wide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic abruptly halted their training. Sumit said, “We were in excellent rhythm when training was suspended due to lockdown. But the team feels we are better off in SAI Centre, Bengaluru where we still get to come out of our rooms and use the running track and do core exercises. I can’t imagine being stuck at home back in Haryana with no option for any basic fitness training.”

Sumit played a key role in India’s midfield during their campaign against the Netherlands earlier this year at the FIH Hockey Pro League. He admitted that these are difficult times for any athlete and said, “This is probably the first time that we have not trained hockey in so long. Getting back to that fine rhythm will take some time but since we are focused on maintaining fitness, we are in a better position than many of our opponents. From here on, in the lead up to the Olympics next year it’s important to stay fit and stay injury-free.”

He was out of action for nearly six months in 2019 after a wrist injury in June during the FIH Series Final in Bhubaneswar. Though he made a fine comeback against the Netherlands in January this year, he suffered a hamstring injury ahead of the matches against Australia.

“Olympics is the ultimate dream and the postponement has not changed our belief of a top-3 finish. We get more time under Chief Coach Graham and he has instilled a lot of confidence in me. He encourages me by saying I am versatile and can play in any position and emphasises I need to focus more on attacking hockey and positioning inside the circle. We, youngsters, have another year to prove worthy to make the team for Olympics,” signed off Sumit.