Olympic success depends on ‘0.1 per cent’ extra effort: PR Sreejesh

Playing his third Olympics, PR Sreejesh believes India have a realistic chance to win an Olympic medal in Tokyo.

By Subhayan Dutta

Veteran Indian hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh believes that the success for the top teams at the Olympic Games depends largely on that "little extra effort" they put than the others.

Having made his international debut 14 years ago at the 2006 South Asian Games, the Kerala star has not been successful in two Olympics and believes that Tokyo will be third time lucky.

Hence, winning an Olympic medal remains the ‘ultimate dream’ for the 32-year-old former India captain and PR Sreejesh believes that the Manpreet Singh-led Indian team has a realistic chance at the Tokyo Games next year.

“We just want to be on the podium and grab the medal,” PR Sreejesh told Hindustan Times.

“Unfortunately, I have missed it two times, but this time, I want everyone to give their 100 per cent to make that possible. When you are the top fourth-ranked team in the world, it’s just a matter of 0.1 per cent extra.

“I definitely think we can realistically think of a good position at the Olympics,” PR Sreejesh added.

Aiming short-term

After qualifying for the Olympic Games quite comprehensively, the Indian hockey team had a dream debut at the FIH Pro League, where they registered wins against the high-ranked Netherlands, Australia and world champions Belgium at home.

Indian hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh believes India has a realistic chance to win an Olympic medal. Photo: Hockey India

However, India's magnificent momentum met a roadblock when the Tokyo Olympics got pushed by a year owing to the COVID-19 outbreak in March.

PR Sreejesh, however, has taken the positives from the situation and has set himself short-term targets in the build-up to Tokyo Games in July next year.

“I always try to look at the next tournament and perform better, so I will be in shape till the next Olympics.

“I am looking after my fitness and I am looking after my diet. Whenever I get a chance to speak to other goalkeepers, it also gives me confidence,” PR Sreejesh added.

Having a clear plan

For Sreejesh, the roadmap is already set.

The international hockey federation has not only announced the Olympic schedule well in advance but has released the FIH Pro League fixtures as well.

After India resume their hockey season with the Asian Champions Trophy in November, they will be on the road for the FIH Pro League fixtures in Spain, UK, Argentina and Germany next year before eventually leaving for Tokyo.

And PR Sreejesh believes that the detailed calendar goes a long way in formulating a strategy for the players and the coaching staff.

“The best part is that FIH has announced the Pro League schedule and Olympic schedule,” the custodian said.

“Now that we know these tournaments are going to happen, we need to be mentally and physically prepared.

“Without a clear goal in sight, we cannot be prepared for the future. Keeping that in mind, we will begin our campaign,” Sreejesh said.