BENGALURU: ‘Harder the battle, sweeter the victory’, reads SV Sunil’s tattoo on his right bicep. He got it inked before the Rio Olympics and three years later, the tattoo has become more significant even as the forward faced questions over his India future after suffering grade 3 lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tear in his left knee in October.
He was in crutches for two months. Life was tough. With no physical activity, the Kodagu man had put on seven kilos with the fat percentage going up to 12 from 7.5 per cent. He had to control his diet and follow a strict schedule to regain shape.
After starting his rehabilitation process with strength and conditioning, he started to run, which though was not easy. He had to run in straight lines as turning or zigzag running meant an undue risk of twisting the knee.
Gradually, he improved and the 30-year-old is in visibly good shape at the national camp at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru. His inclusion in the Olympic test event, scheduled next month, is vital after all the negativity floating in his mind post-injury. “Some people may look at this as just a test event, but for me this is a very big tournament because I’m coming back from injury,” said Sunil, who will be wearing India jersey after a period of nine months. He last featured in Asia Cup.
“At one time, the thought did cross my mind that I might be done. It does creep into your mind that this is enough. I spoke to my coaches, teammates, my close friends like (PR) Sreejesh and Biru (Birender Lakra). They told me that there was still a lot of hockey left in me.”
With some seniors rested for the test event, Sunil is back in the fold and there will be certain pressure on him. He has just two tournaments - test event in Japan and Tour of Belgium (September-October) - to prove his credentials.
The attacker will face competition from Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh among others. “My first target was to get back into the team after injury. As the management has now given me a chance, I need to prove my worth again. My focus is only on this (Olympics test event). I need to play well in Tokyo.”