Harendra Singh determined to take Indian Hockey team to Tokyo Olympics

Harendra Singh determined to take Indian Hockey team to Tokyo Olympics

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Harendra Singh, who never got the opportunity to represent India at the Olympics, is determined of making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic as a coach. He insisted that he has been aiming for a podium finish in the upcoming Champions Trophy, World Cup, and Asian games to qualify for the Olympics.

Harendra Singh represented India during 1985 to 1991 and played 43 games. During his stint with the Indian team, the national hockey team could never qualify for the Olympics and he never got the opportunity to represent India at the Olympics as a player, but Singh has shown determination to make it to the Olympics as a coach at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Considered the 'Man Friday' of Indian hockey, Singh claimed "nothing is impossible" for him. Barely a month into the high-profile job, he has been clear about his goals and insisted that securing podium finishes in the upcoming Champions Trophy and the season-ending World Cup, retaining the Asian Games gold in Jakarta would be his goals, which would give the team a direct ticket to the 2020 Olympics.

"Yes, I never got the opportunity to compete at the Olympics and that will always remain the biggest regret of my playing career. But there is always another day and now I have an opportunity to be at the big stage in a different capacity," Harendra told PTI in an interview before leaving for the Champions Trophy to be held in Breda, Netherlands from June 23 to July 1.

Singh was brought in as men's coach for a fourth stint after Sjoerd Marijne was moved back to the women's camp following a poor Commonwealth Games campaign in Australia where the team finished fourth. Even though he didn't have a stellar playing career, Harendra's exploits as a mentor have been incomparable and he has been the only FIH certificate holder coach in India for quite some time now.

"2018 is a very crucial year for Indian hockey with three important tournaments around. I agree I didn't have enough time with the team but my goal is clear from day 1 -- podium finishes in Champions Trophy and World Cup and gold in Asiad which will ensure our ticket to Tokyo Olympics," said Harendra.

"These players are not new to me. I have coached all of them at one point or the other. The core group of players know my working style inside out," said he.

Asked how realistic his ambitions are, a confident Harendra replied, "Nothing is impossible and I have proved that time again, be it with the junior men's team or the women's side."

Singh stated that the last edition of the Champions Trophy would serve as a preparation for the Asian Games and pointed out that his role would be just of a facilitator to the players in deciding their fortunes in the tournaments ahead. 

"I go into any tournament with a mindset that let the players decide what colour of medal they want. I will just help them in achieving that," he signed off.

India would open their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy on Saturday.

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