The 26-year-old won a bronze medal at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics.
With the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 fever engulfing hockey fans around the world, India’s 2016 World Cup-winning star and the Olympic bronze medalist Mandeep Singh, in the latest episode of Hockey India’s podcast series Hockey Te Charcha, spoke at length about his journey, the 2016 World Cup triumph and the recent historic campaign at the Tokyo Olympics.
Mandeep Singh, who was one of the architects of India’s title win at the Uttar Pradesh Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup 2016, stated, “It’s a big achievement to win the World Cup in India, and we have another chance to repeat it. In 2013, we faced a lot of criticism from people as we missed the opportunity to win the Junior World Cup on home soil and even lost to Pakistan, so in 2016, we had a point to prove with an advantage of playing at home.”
“Our only aim was the podium finish, there was no senior-junior difference in the team, we switched off from our social media, and played as a unit. We trusted each other and backed each other like a family, so that’s how we won the Junior World Cup in 2016,” he added.
Emphasizing on the team camaraderie, Mandeep Singh stated that it was the teammate’s support that helped him recover from his injury, which he picked up just two months before the 2016 Junior World Cup.
“Just two months prior to the Junior World Cup, I suffered a hamstring injury and missed out on the Australia tour. The doctor told us that, it will take three months to recover from this, and I got very upset about it, I got scared whether I’ll be able to play in the Junior World Cup or not. But, I was very lucky that I had great support from my teammates, they backed me, they kept motivating me by saying that I will play, and because of that, I could recover for the Junior World Cup,” he said.
When asked about his best memories from the 2016 World Cup, the Jalandhar-born player recalled, “During the Semi-Final match against Australia, when their full-back tried to scoop, I defended it in the air, and with the support of Nilakanta, I scored the goal, and we entered the Final. From there, I felt like this is the moment, I realised I have to play well and help the team win the Final at any cost, no pain can stop me, so I can say these were some of my best memories from the 2016 World Cup.”
Having spearheaded the team’s forward line at the Tokyo Olympics, Mandeep Singh said that communication and understanding was the key reason behind the strikers’ remarkable show at the quadrennial event.
“At the camp, after every training session, we used to discuss a lot of things like how do we have to lead each other, how do we have to make space for each other, so all these things kind of helped us understand each other. Even during the Olympics, before and after every match, we used to discuss things like what we did well, and where do we need to focus in the next match. So, that helped us perform well,” concluded the forward.
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