CHENNAI: PR Sreejesh knows a thing or two about the Olympics and the weight of expectations placed on the current team to reclaim former glories. In less than a week from today, he will be on a flight to Tokyo for his third Games. Excerpts from an interview:
How has the last year been?
The last one and a half years were like a new learning for us, all of us. Quarantined, lockdowns and not able to do anything... I didn’t play any major international events, so that was really tough. But when you think about the positive side... I think it helped us to bond really well, because we were under the same roof.
Before every big event, you have had the advantage of playing a biggish event. That wasn’t possible this year. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
Every tournament has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you are going to play in some major tournament, that is going to reveal all your positives and negatives to the opponent. In that aspect, it's a positive because you are not exposing yourself in front of others.
The EuroHockey Nations Championships just finished and it acted as an eye-opener because we could analyse the teams that played there, what they are doing, both good and bad. That’s another advantage. But there is a definite disadvantage (for us) as well.
We haven't played in any intense matches with opponents. To try and rectify that, we have been sort of replicating the Olympic tournament in training, playing six games (it also served as trials to pick the 16-man squad).
You have most medals in your trophy cabinet. Hopeful of adding the Olympic one to your collection?
When I wear my jersey, I always feel like this is an opportunity to win a medal. The Olympics is a platform where you cannot regret... when the tournament ends you should not regret it.
Last time in Rio we almost reached there, one or two small mistakes cost us the medal. This time I am going to Tokyo thinking as if this is going to be my last chance to win a medal. Another three years... nobody knows what is going to happen.