Savita Punia, the India hockey goalkeeper, believes the women’s team have done all the right preparation and stand a great chance to win an elusive medal at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and are now scheduled to be held in summer 2021.
“I think we have a great chance to make history at the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good mix of experience and youngsters in our side and all our bases are covered,” Savita told Hockey India.
“We have competed against top teams in the recent past and we have a strong belief in our abilities. If we play to our potential, we will surely win a medal for India at the Olympics next year.”
The Indian team have never been able to win a medal in the prestigious quadrennial event. In Moscow Games in 1980, the team finished fourth while in Rio Games in 2016, they finished 12th.
Recalling the historic qualification for the Rio Olympics, Savita said: “It was fantastic to take part at the Rio Olympics in 2016. We had qualified for the big competition after 36 years and we were very excited to be in the midst of the best athletes from around the world. The feeling was unparalleled when we were soaking in the entire environment at Rio.”
“I feel our team was raw at that time and we made a few mistakes. Now, we have a much stronger side and I am sure we will be able to put the nightmare in Rio behind us. The experience at the Olympic Games will certainly hold us in good stead for the next one in Tokyo.”
The goalkeeper stated that the team has changed their playing style after the Rio Games.
“We have certainly changed the way we operate on and off the field since the 2016 Olympics. We have recorded great victories in the last four years which includes Asia Cup 2017 and FIH Women’s Series Finals Hiroshima 2019.
“It was absolutely amazing to book a berth at the Tokyo Olympics through the FIH Olympic Qualifiers 2019 in front of our home crowd. We desperately needed one goal in the second leg match against USA and Rani stepped up for us once again in the last quarter of the match.
“We never stopped believing in ourselves and that was the key aspect in our game on that day,” she added.