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Pillay picked for Germany camp
May 11, 2004 19:31 IST
The Indian Hockey Federation cleared the deck for mercurial forward Dhanraj Pillay to play in the Athens Olympics by naming him for the pre-Games conditioning camp in Germany.
Besides Pillay, veteran forward Baljit Singh Dhillon has also been included in the camp, to be held at Cologne from May 27 to June 21.
The camp will initially be for nine key players.
Making the announcement in Delhi on Tuesday, IHF President K P S Gill said the team for the Athens Games would be named after an assessment of the players in the camp.
"It's good that we have got the funds to send nine top players to Germany for specialized, individual attention to prepare them for the Olympics," Gill told reporters.
"We will send the selection committee to finalize the team at Germany and announce it there."
Asked whether Pillay is certain to play in the Olympics, the IHF chief replied: "The camp is not for proving Pillay's fitness, or for that matter any one's fitness. We want to enhance the physical endurance of the players. It's to assess what he is capable of and what he has achieved. If his
[Pillay's] physical endurance is even 80 per cent, he will play."
Gill said the decision to name Pillay for the Germany camp is not a "stand-down" on his part after the IHF came under a lot of flak for ignoring the player from the pre-Olympic build-ups.
"[It's] not a stand down. I have been saying for years that there must be different training schedules for different players," he said, trying to justify IHF's decision to name Pillay for the Cologne camp and not for the one at Barog.
The other players who would be going to Germany for the first phase of training are Dilip Tirkey, Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Sandeep Singh, Jatinder Pal Singh and Devesh Chauhan.
The players will be trained under the supervision and expertise of German coaches.
Gill said they will be joined in Germany by 14 others after June 12.
He added that a 14-member team would be picked there for a four-nation tournament in Holland in July.
"The players at the Barog camp would go to Chandigarh for another camp from May 27. Fourteen players from Chandigarh would join the key players at Germany for a training camp. After the tournament at Holland they will come back and again resume training."
Gill also said that the future of coach Rajinder Singh would depend on how India performs in the Olympics.
"It will depend on India's performance in the Olympics. All in the team, be it the coach or the players, have to be result-oriented."
On expert drag-flickers Sandeep Singh and Jatinder Pal Singh, Gill said the duo has a "realistic" chance of making it to the Games.
"Jatinder had a good tour of Australia and Sandeep was impressive in the junior Asia Cup. They have reached a certain level. Their game as defenders has also improved. These two are certainly making a lot of progress," he said.
Gill said it would be difficult to say whether Jugraj Singh, who has been asked to join the Barog camp, could resume playing top-flight hockey.
"It is difficult to say whether Jugraj can play. But he has tremendous will power. He himself wanted to join the camp. We will watch him at Barog before deciding on whether to send him to Germany."