Hockey India is going to finalize the list of Indian Hockey players who will don the Tricolor jersey at the upcoming Rio Olympics on 5th July. The Men in Blue will eye to end their medal drought and win their much elusive ninth gold medal after the prolonged wait of 36 years. The Hockey India will also arrange a two-week national camp starting from 11th July before the team fly to Rio de Janeiro.
Once a supergiant of the Hockey world, the Indian Hockey team last won a Gold Medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympic. India has won 8 Olympic Gold Medals in Hockey altogether comprising both the pre and post independence era and still holds the record of winning the prized possession for the most number of times. So now the question arises, whether the Sardar Singh-led men could repeat history and would grab their 9th gold medal or not?
The Indian Hockey team, currently ranked at the 8th position in the Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings, will take part in numerous tournaments before the “Greatest Show on Earth” unveils in August, which will certainly help the team to prepare for the quadrennial event. Among them, the FIH Champions Trophy is the foremost and is scheduled to start on June 10 in London. Sardar Singh has been given rest for this upcoming tournament, and the goalkeeper PR Sreejesh will lead the team.
Roelant Oltmans’ men will then fly to Valencia, Spain to participate in a Six Nations tournament. The team will return to India in the first week of July. The national hockey team will then fly to Madrid and play two friendly matches and then play against New Zealand and Spain again in Rio as the final stage of their preparation for the Rio Olympics 2016.
The Dutch coach said in a press release, “ The national selectors are likely to meet on July 5 to pick the final squad for the Olympics”. Further Oltman added, “We will start the national camp on July 11 which will be a two-week camp after we leave for Madrid, to play two friendly matches with Spain and then head to Rio and have a friendly with Spain and New Zealand. I believe we have entered a very exciting period in the lead up to the Olympics.”
Prior to this very busy schedule, the 29-member Champions Trophy-bound team has been allowed to take a week’s break before rejoining on 29th May. Despite the break, Oltman has given stress on the fitness regime and to stay in shape, “This includes the gym and running only to ensure they stay at the same fitness level.”