Determination to win combined with extensive international exposure has contributed to the Indian women’s hockey team’s improved performance, according to former star Deepika Thakur, who foresees a top four finish for the side at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian women’s hockey team has enjoyed good results in top tournaments recently, including winning the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and qualifying for back-to-back Olympics.
“The women’s team are determined to show that they too can win tournaments like the men’s team. We have won the 2017 Asia Cup, entered the quarter finals in the World Cup in London, won silver at the 2018 Asian Games,” Thakur said.
“I think these are all great results and collective work by coaching staff and the federation. I feel Hockey India has ensured the women’s team gets fantastic exposure at the international level and planning the ACTC (Annual Calendar for Training and Competition) accordingly has been critical in the team’s resurgence,” she added.
Thakur, who was a part of the Indian team at the Rio Olympics and also a significant contributor to winning the Asian Champions Trophy title in 2016, feels the side can bounce back when international competitions resume.
“I certainly believe the team can bounce back. They were in good rhythm after winning back-to-back tournaments last year and they had done well in New Zealand earlier this year.
“This team is hungry to achieve success at the highest level and hence I am sure once competitions resume, they will bounce back and do everything in their capacity to finish top 4 in Tokyo,” she said.
“Five years ago, if you would ask me whether the women’s team had it in them to break into the top 10 ranking in the world, my answer may not have been a sure yes,” she conceded.
Thakur feels the team should remain motivated and focused on its goal of doing well at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The current Indian side is very committed and focused. But when you have to be in national camps without competition it is easy to feel less motivated.
“Also, without competition, it is difficult to assess improvement. Hence, I would say it is a very crucial time for the team and each player should have her own yardstick and must work on raising the bar,” she said.