Former India forward Tushar Khandekar opined that the national hockey team would be a strong medal contender of clinching a medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
He stated that the current side has acquired a great self-belief over the past decade which has uplifted their game. The 36-year old mentioned that we have gotten better from every Olympics since London 2012 where India failed to even qualify for the mega event.
“I feel the way the team (Indian men) is doing right now; they are a strong contender to finish on the podium,” Tushar said on ‘Hockey Te Charcha’, a podcast series initiated by HI ahead of the Games.
“We have learnt from each other in the Olympic Games. While we did not qualify in 2008, we finished 12th in London and 8th in Rio. We learnt from the mistakes we made in 2012.
“Players part of the London Olympics like Sreejesh, Manpreet, Sunil, Danish Mujtaba, V. R. Raghunath (and others) who also got to play in Rio had told themselves the team won’t make the same mistakes they made in London,” he said.
‘The current team has raised the level’: Khandekar
Tushar Khandekar further said that players who were part of the 2016 Rio Olympics will look to avoid the similar mistakes at Tokyo 2020.
“Likewise, I am sure players who were part of the Rio Olympics will caution the team of the errors they need to avoid making in Tokyo.”
The Jhansi-born, who was part of India’s support staff between 2014 and 2016 as the assistant coach, asserted that team Indian has improved their playing level in every aspect.
“I feel the current team has raised the level and they have developed a great sense of self-belief that they can do well against top teams of the world. After a slump in 2008-09, it has taken us 10-11 years to climb to this level we are at now,” stated the former India forward who made his international debut in 2003.