CHENNAI: Sushila Chanu has been through a lot since the beginning of last year. First, she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the beginning of 2016, but determination and resilience helped her come back in just eight weeks. And while she had the honour of leading the women’s hockey team at the Rio Olympics, a stage they reached after 36 years, her joy was short-lived.
A recurrence of the injury right after the Games forced her to undergo surgery, something she had avoided when the injury happened initially. It has been a tough eight months since.
“It hasn’t been an easy phase. After the initial injury, I managed to come back and travel to Rio to lead the women’s team at the Olympics, which was big. But right after, I had to take the decision to go under the knife. I had felt that I had dodged that bullet. But it’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to getting back to action,” the Manipur girl told Express.
News of Sushila’s comeback came out when she was announced as part of the 20-member squad that will participate in a five-match Test series against New Zealand in Pukekohe and Hamilton from May 14. Having been a part of the women’s camp in Bengaluru since January, the 25-year-old says the girls are taking it match by match.
“The team has improved tremendously over the past two years. This year we beat Belarus in a five-match Test series, before continuing our journey towards the World Cup next year by winning the World League Round 2 in Canada. But we know we have to get better and are taking it game by game.
Not looking too far ahead helps keep our focus on the task at hand, and the only aim now is to do well in New Zealand.”
Sushila felt converting chances was an area that needed to improve.
“We can do much better in front of goal. Ultimately, goals win you games, and maybe if we can sharpen up in front, we can finish off matches easier. So we’ve been working on that aspect,” she noted.
The Madhya Pradesh Women Hockey Academy graduate also had words of praise for new Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne. “He’s been coach of World No 1 teams, and has brought that attitude here. That has helped us strengthen mentally, and get over any fears we had against perceived bigger teams,” she concluded.