|HOME | OLYMPICS | COLUMNS|
September 15, 2000
No clear favourite for hockey goldCedric D'Souza
The Olympics is the biggest sporting extravaganza on earth. It is the pinnacle of all sporting events. It is the only time when one sees all the athletes of the world from various sports under one roof, living together in harmony and oneness. From the multi-million dollar earners in athletics, soccer and tennis to the little-known competitor, all share the same facilities. That is why it is so unique.
Australia being a country where sport plays a very large part and is ingrained in their culture, the pomp and lavishness of the opening ceremony was a spectacle par excellence and second to none.
From an organizational point of view it takes four years of meticulous planning, round the clock hard work, to complete the infrastructure to a nicety, so that both players and spectators are properly looked after. For the athletes, all will be geared, focused and ready to fire as they venture into the Olympic arena in culmination of years of toil and sweat.
There will be moments of ecstasy and despair but all will go back with memories they will cherish.
What are India’s chances of a medal?
Well, to be realistic, one can honestly say with conviction that the only scope for medals is from hockey, Sanamacha Chanu in women's weightlifting and Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the tennis doubles. Without undermining the others, I do feel they will strive to perform and improve on their best timings/showing, or prove me wrong.
Since hockey is my subject, let me waste no more time and get down to the sport. I was extremely proud to see Rochelle Hawkes, a hockey player who has represented Australia since the 1988 Olympics and has three goals to her credit, read the athlete's oath. I think it is the highest accolade an athlete can be bestowed for her services to her country.
Well, this Olympics is one that does not have any clear favourite in the hockey competition. Any one of the seven teams will be on the podium - - The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Pakistan, India, Australia, Korea - - with dark horses Canada, Argentina and Great Britain causing their fair share of hiccups.
Form and previous records have an uncanny way of bursting the prediction bubble - - I for one can vouch for this, as our medal prospect-winning team of '96 plummeted to the depths.
Let me share a few thoughts with you. The western teams really do protect and value their experienced players, as their entire game plan is based and structured around these core players, who have served the country for around 10 years and become the backbone. Needless to say losing them en-masse would always create immense problems, as replacements would take time to blossom and fill in their shoes.
In 1996, every team was at its peak, with all their experienced players playing their last Olympics. So was the competition - - fierce and of the highest order. Today almost all the teams have lost the likes of their national icons. From Pakistan's Shabaz Ahmed to Germany's Carsten Fisher, to Holland's Bovelander, Taco Vanden Honnert, Marc Delisen and India's Pargat Singh. They will all not be gracing Sydney. Every team has gone through a transition period after Atlanta, blooding youngsters from their development squads.
But it does not mean the competition will be any less. Rest assured that it will be as fierce, if not better than at Atlanta. On current form, there is a very marginal difference between the teams and it is my opinion that it will be the team that has the most desire, grit, character, unity, and consistency that will differentiate between victory and defeat.
Let us look at the pools
Pool A consists of India, Australia, Korea, Spain, Poland and Argentina
Pool B consist of The Netherlands, Germany, Pakistan, Great Britain, Malaysia, and Canada.
Oh yes! There is a theory that India is in a comparatively easier pool. For me, this gives rise to overconfidence and complacency. But having said that I sincerely believe that India has the potential to go the whole hog. I have always been an advocator that we should be placed in the tougher pool, the reason being that the team has no option but to fire on all cylinders, without any semblance of an indifferent mental approach.
Also, there is the fact that in a tough pool anything can happen, games can go topsy-turvy - - which might be to one's advantage at crucial times. One thing is certain: the teams will go all out to try and attain their first objective, to get into the top two of their respective pools so that they can make the semi-finals.
The psychological warfare has already begun - - and coaches are going on record that this will their Olympics. This is a normal ploy by all to psyche out the opposition, as any small leverage could mean the difference between a victory and defeat.
India has quiet a few players playing their swan song tournament and if they do perform to their potential there is no reason why we cannot come home with a medal.
As always, I wish them every success.
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK