‘Champions Trophy silver medal is on the backburner now’
‘We have to look ahead and focus on the Olympics’
Having achieved the goal of a podium finish at the recently-concluded Champions Trophy in London, the Indian men's hockey team's chief coach Roelant Oltmans has set his eyes on his next big target, the Rio Olympics.
The silver medal-winning feat last month in London was India's best-ever performance in the Champions Trophy, surpassing the bronze medal finish in the 1982 edition of the tournament.
"Our aim was always to win a medal at the Champions Trophy. We have achieved that. It is on the backburner now. We have to look ahead and focus on the Olympics," said Oltmans, after arriving in New Delhi following a successful tour.
The Indian hockey team returned home on Monday after a strong showing at the six-nation Invitational tournament in Valencia and a silver medal finish in the Champions Trophy, which propelled it to No. 5 in the world rankings.
"The team deserves a much-needed break after all the hard work, and then, very soon, it will be back to the grind as we sharpen up for the all-important Olympic Games," Oltmans said.
India finished fifth in the six-nation invitational tournament in Valencia after drawing 1-1 against hosts Spain in their concluding match.
The Men in Blue played in the Olympic format with a 16-member squad at the six-nations tournament. The team had a new set of challenges as reduced bench strength meant longer time spent on the pitch for players with lesser time for recovery off the pitch.
Fielding an experimental team, which featured a lot of young faces making their debut in the Champions Trophy, India scored 10 goals in the tournament. The defence was the key factor in their march to the final as they conceded the second least goals in the tournament (11) behind eventual champions Australia.
Harmanpreet Singh was named the best up-and-coming player of the tournament.
Goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, who captained the side in the Champions Trophy, is proud of the achievement. He said the team is now completely focussed on producing a good show at Rio de Janeiro.