Bengaluru: Indian hockey striker Mandeep Singh believes the team has moved on from the initial disappointment which they had to deal with following the postponement of Tokyo Olympic Games and are now working on improving their skills and fitness during the lockdown in place due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has postponed the Games to summer 2021 in wake of the coronavirus outbreak which has claimed more than 1.4 lakh lives across the world so far.
"At first, it was disappointing but with the entire world battling this crisis, we understand this decision was made keeping the players' safety in mind," Mandeep told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"We have moved on from the initial disappointment and are now working on maintaining our fitness levels during this lockdown period."
The hockey team, both men and women, are currently at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Bengaluru where they are carrying out their fitness drills and keeping in touch with the game.
"We are lucky the entire core group is together here in SAI, Bengaluru and our coaching staff is also here. Though we are not doing hockey training we have been given a specific program schedule to follow which includes independent training schedule for all players," said the Indian striker.
"This is something every athlete will have to deal with from across the globe and we are no different.
"At least, I would like to think we are in a better position than others with the team still together going about other aspects of training like analysing our opponents matches, making individual presentation to our coaches via video meetings and so on.
"We are in a better position to begin training once the lockdown is lifted," he added.
He believes that at such a time, staying fit and healthy is the main priority of the team.
"We have a specifically designed training program made by our scientific advisor Robin Arkell. This involves indoor body-weight training, individual running and so on."
"It can be difficult but since we have all been in SAI together and have our coaching staff here, the lockdown period has not been too hard on us," he added.
India last won a gold in Hockey in 1980 in Moscow Olympics. Since then, they have participated in eight Olympic editions but have failed to make a podium finish. And after qualifying for the Tokyo Games, the team was in high spirits and were looking forward to end the medal drought.
"This lockdown has not affected our goal of winning a medal at the Olympics," Mandeep insisted while stressing on the goal of the team.
The 25-year-old also called on countrymen to fight the pandemic as a team. "Please follow all the protocols and guidelines made by the government. Stay at home, stay safe, wash your hands regularly and go out only when it is absolutely necessary and if you do step out of home, please wear a home-made mask."
He also requested citizens to respect the frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who are working round the clock to serve the people.
"It's important we respect them and do our bit to help the needy and the poor."