It’s been a year to remember for the Indian women’s hockey team.
While qualifying for their second straight Olympic Games was surely the highlight for the Sjoerd Marijne-coached side, the team also put on some great displays throughout the season as they lined-up against some of the big names in women’s hockey in Great Britain, Spain and South Korea.
But with the all-important 2020 Olympics around the corner, the team knows that they have no time to enjoy the highlights reel and will have to hit the ground running as soon as possible.
Sjoerd Marijne: Target Tokyo 2020
Back in Bengaluru for the national camp just weeks after their dramatic win over the USA at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, Marijne was keen to ensure that the team was already working towards the Tokyo Olympics next year.
“We have chartered out our plans for the next seven months and we have a clear vision of what we need to improve on and the level we seek to achieve ahead of the Olympics,” Marijne shared to Hockey India.
“While we play some very good teams in the lead up to the Olympics where we look forward to achieving consistent performances, it is very important to keep the players' minds and legs fresh.”
Looking back at the two-legged qualifiers, Marijne insisted that he was not pleased with the way the team almost threw away the tie, however, their fighting ability gave him enough reasons to hope, going into the Olympic year.
Sjoerd Marijne’s honesty
“The review meeting earlier this week was not all about 'well done, congratulations' but it was more about how we almost threw away the second match. I expressed my anger without mincing any words. The way we played the first two quarters in the second match against the USA in the Olympic Qualifiers was something we never want to repeat again," said the Dutchman.
“A major take away from that match was the team's ability to fight back. That is the quality I really like about this team. They will never give up and they have on several occasions shown that burning desire to win and to play at home against a strong team calls for a lot of nerves.”
A better prepared Rani Rampal
Meanwhile, skipper Rani Rampal sounded confident building towards the 2020 Olympic Games and insisted that the team will be better prepared for the challenge that awaits them at Tokyo 2020. “We did not have a great tournament in Rio, but we got the experience of playing at an Olympic Games,” she said.
“Currently, we have 10 players in our squad who were a part of the team that participated in Rio, and with the huge improvements that we have made to our game since then, I am really confident of targeting a podium finish in Tokyo.”