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August - September 2004

India Sport Scene

Indian Hockey - Are We Ready For The Olympics?

by Ramesh Seedhar

The performance of the Indian hockey team that raised high hopes from their recent tournament successes seems to have hit turbulent waters. India has not won a medal since the boycott marred Moscow games in 1980 but the recent wins had given to optimism that they will be in the medals at the Olympic Games at Athens.

Seeking to bring back the Olympic glory after a gap of two decades, the Indian hockey probables embarked on an ambitious programme of training with a 21day session in US followed by participation in four nation's tournaments in Amsterdam and in Düsseldorf.

Prior to departure to United States, the probables led by defender Dilip Tirkey looked quite upbeat about their chances. Dilip stated that from today onwards we will only think about the Olympics. For winning the medal is our main goal.

Pillay, the 35 year old veteran said that we need to perform well in these tournaments and it will be a test to see that we can put into use what we have learnt in training. The veteran of over 400 internationals said that the camp will give special attention to the fitness of the players who would also benefit from the experience of foreign trainers.

However something seems to have gone drastically wrong as the team performed poorly in Amsterdam. This caused a crisis resulting in the firing of the two coaches Harinder Singh and M R Negi by the Indian Hockey Association who had only appointed them just a month ago.

TNN had reported that the sacking of the two coaches was on the cards after the team arrived from Amsterdam. But what made the IHF's decision confused and murky was that less than 24 hours before the team's arrival from Amsterdam they were ready to appoint Jagbir Singh as the chief coach and throw out Rajinder Singh who has been with the team for the last two years. In the end it was felt that to avoid controversy just before the Olympics Rajinder will be retained as a showpiece while Jagbir would run the real show till the Olympics.

All this shuffling of coaches is taking place because the IHF is worried that their hi-tech plans for the Olympics are fizzling out. IHF has announced that three players Harpal Singh, Adam Sinclair and Sandeep Michael would join the probables for the German tour. They will replace Suni Yadav, Hari Parsad and Inderjeet.

The Indian team has now left for Germany we now await anxiously whether our optimism in the performance of the Indian team and their preparation for the Olympics is justified.

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