The Indian Men’s Hockey Team’s last podium finish was a Gold Medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
With the Tokyo Olympics just over a month away, the eagerness to watch the Indian athletes achieve success is palpable. Expressing his excitement ahead of the most awaited global event, Olympian Tushar Khandker said the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will be one of the strong contenders for a podium finish.
“Definitely I am excited to watch the Olympics. The way the team is doing right now, they are a strong contender to finish on the podium,” stated Tushar. He was in a conversation with Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series initiated by Hockey India.
India has learned from past mistakes
Tushar Khandker expressed that India’s past experiences have taught important lessons. Players today understand very well what small mistakes can do in big-ticket events such as the Olympics. He said, “We have learnt from each of the Olympic Games. While we didn’t qualify in 2008, we finished 12th in London and 8th in Rio.
“We learnt from the mistakes we made in 2012. Players part of the London Olympics like (PR) Sreejesh, Manpreet (Singh), Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, Raghunath (Vokkaliga) and others, who played in Rio told themselves the team won’t make the same mistakes they made in London. Likewise, I am sure players, who were in Rio Olympics, will caution the team of the errors they need to avoid making in Tokyo.”
Tushar was part of the Indian Men’s Team support staff between 2014 to 2016 as an Assistant Coach. He believes the current squad has raised the level in every aspect. “I feel the current team has raised the level. They have developed a great sense of self belief that they can do well against top teams of the world.
“After a slump in 2008-09, it has taken us 10-11 years to climb to this level,” said the former India forward. Tushar made his International debut for India in 2003 and was part of the 2007 Asia Cup-winning side.
Indian hockey team’s growth has been noteworthy
The former international also credited India’s steady growth at the world level to Hockey India’s efforts in professionalizing the system. “To make a good team, we definitely need good planning, and I am very happy with the way Hockey India plans and executes systematically.
“Over the past 10-12 years they have brought in a lot of changes. They have also laid emphasis on a very scientific approach to train players,” said Tushar.
“They are not only looking at producing quality players but are also working on developing Coaches through the Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway.”