Asian Games postponement: Indian hockey players disappointed but count on positives



Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said they were not taken aback by the announcement

Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said they were not taken aback by the announcement

The indefinite postponement of the Hangzhou Asian Games has come as a big disappointment for the majority of the country’s athletes but the Indian hockey team players have taken the deferment positively, saying it will give them additional time to prepare for the continental showpiece.

The Hangzhou Asian Games, which were scheduled to take place from September 10 to 25, were on May 6 postponed indefinitely amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in China.

The new dates of the event will be announced in near future.

Reacting to the development, veteran Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said they were not taken aback by the announcement.

“Yes, it’s a disappointment but somewhere down the line we were expecting it considering the situation in China,” he told PTI.

“But we want to look at it (postponement) from a positive point of view because the postponement means we will get more time to prepare for the Asian Games.” The lanky custodian hopes the postponement will bring good luck for them, the way it did during the Tokyo Games, where India won a historic Olympic bronze medal after 41 years.

“We already have the experience of playing in a postponed Games (Tokyo Olympics), so we know what it takes to remain in shape.

“The positive part is that there are plenty of tournaments lined up for us like the Asia Cup, Pro League matches, Commonwealth Games, and World Cup next year. The dates of the postponed Asian Games are yet to be announced, so we will get enough time to prepare our best for the Asian Games,” Sreejesh said.

A senior women’s team player, who did not wish to be named, said the postponement has both positive and negative consequences.

“It is really sad that the Asian Games are postponed. After the Tokyo Olympics success and some fine performances in the Pro League matches, we are determined to qualify for the Paris Games through the Asian Games,” said the player, who was a member of the Tokyo squad.

“We have been growing from strength to strength under Janekke Schopman and the team looked in a good rhythm. Now there is uncertainty about when the Games will happen but we will continue to put in the hard yards in our training. Just like in Tokyo, it is important for us not to lose focus,” the player added.

The Asian Games postponement also opened up the doors for members of both the senior men’s and women’s teams to participate in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where India had earlier decided to send its reserve hockey sides due to the short turnaround between the two events.

A Hockey India official said now that the Asian Games had been postponed, the main team players can be considered for the Birmingham CWG as the squads are yet to be announced.

“We still don’t know what will happen because the postponement came as a shock to us. Earlier, we decided to send separate teams for CWG and Asiad because of just 32 days turnaround between the two events and we wanted our main team to peak in Asian Games, which is a qualifier for Paris Olympics,” the official told PTI.

“But now that the Asian Games are postponed we can include players from the senior teams in CWG. It is too early to say anything because we will need to look at the fresh dates of the Asian Games and then adjust our calendar accordingly.”


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