BENGALURU: Indian hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh wants to bring back the glory days of the side and be the Olympic champions before bringing down the curtains on his glittering career.
Sreejesh feels this is his last chance to win a medal for India and he wants to give the best possible shot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
"Nobody can predict what is going to happen next year so it's not only about age there can be many reasons. For example lack of performance so you are not sure that what is going to happen next," Sreejesh told ANI.
"When I prepare for any tournament, I just feel that I want to give my best in the tournament as I may not get the next opportunity and I don't want to regret it after this tournament.
"So it's all about performing better for your country. I always feel that this is my last chance to win a medal for my country so that gives me energy and enthusiasm to bring out the best in myself.
"I want to bring back that glory in our country because we are the Olympic champions. So I want to see that glory days back in India hence I'm giving my hundred per cent to contribute my best," he added.
Hockey India on Friday announced a 16-member men's squad for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. With as many as 10 Olympic debutants in the squad, the Indian team has a lot of young talent.
Sreejesh said while the whole country was in lockdown, the players were constantly training for the tournament and since the squad is flexible in their approach it will act as a major confidence booster for the contingent.
"We have the maximum number of training days in the last two years because the country was in lockdown and we hardly went for breaks in the last one and half years so that is going to be one of the strengths," said Sreejesh.
"Second thing is the climate because Tokyo is going to be humid and it's going to be really hot and we Indians are used to this climate but we are also capable of adapting to situations really fast.
"Third the age group we a carrying is like players who are fit enough to play throughout the game with the same pace and energy so it's going to be one of advantage for us. We are carrying three drag flickers so we do have a number of hidden weapons with us," he pointed out.
Additionally, joining the team are Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and debutant forwards, Shamsher Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Talking about the team's selection, Sreejesh said: "When it comes to the team there is definitely the choice of coaches and selectors because they are following these players for a long time and before the big events they take the call. I think most important thing is to bring out the best of them during the events so definitely it's going to be really tough in the Olympics because each and every team comes there to win a medal. So you just need to focus on yourself first and perform really well when you get an opportunity."
One of the country's earliest sports heroes, Milkha Singh died of Covid-related complications in a private hospital in Chandigarh late on Friday night, leaving the sporting community in shock and disbelief. Sreejesh paid homage and said: "Definitely he was the face of India and his death is a great loss but, we always say that legends never die he will remain alive in our heart."
Talking about participating at the Tokyo Olympics without fans, Sreejesh said the squad is mentally prepared to lock horns with teams behind closed doors.
"If you take last two tournaments which we played in Germany and Argentina we were isolated from everyone, everything was separate for us even the dining room so didn't mingle with anybody. Even on the field there was no spectators it was empty so I think everybody is mentally prepared for the worst now," said the goalkeeper.