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Getting Back to Rhythm After Coronavirus-Forced Break Will Take Time: Indian Hockey Team Player Sumit

Sumit (Photo Credit: @SportsinAP)

Sumit (Photo Credit: @SportsinAP)

Sumit said the Indian men's hockey team was still eyeing a top 3 finish at the Olympics despite the coronavirus lockdown slowing things down.

Bengaluru: Indian hockey midfielder Sumit on Friday said it will take time for the team to get back to the "excellent rhythm" it had before the coronavirus-forced national lockdown.

Sumit said the team is still upbeat after its impressive performance against the world's top three teams in the FIH Hockey Pro League, which has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team is currently at the Sports Authority of India Centre here.

"This is probably the first time that we have not trained hockey in so long. We were in excellent rhythm when training was suspended due to lockdown. Getting back to that fine rhythm will take some time but since we are focused on maintaining fitness, we are in a better position than many of our opponents," Sumit said.

"Olympics is the ultimate dream and the postponement has not changed our belief of a top-3 finish. We have self belief after performing well against the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. Every single player in the core group believes we can finish in top 3 in Olympics."

The youngster recalled that the team was in the middle of intense training when the nation-wide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic abruptly halted their training.

"But the team feels we are better off in SAI Centre, Bengaluru where we still get to come out of our rooms and use running track and do core exercises. I can't imagine being stuck at home in Haryana with no option for any basic fitness training," said Sumit, who played a key role in India's match against the Netherlands at the FIH Hockey Pro League.

"From here on, in the lead up to the Olympics next year it's important to stay fit and stay injury-free," said the player who was out of action for nearly six months last year after a wrist injury during the FIH Series Final in Bhubaneswar.

Sumit was also a part of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning squad and he attributed that triumph to self-belief of the team.

"I remember when we won the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2014 and steadily kept improving performance in the lead up to the FIH Men's Junior World Cup in 2016, the team had started believing that we can win the Gold. That self-belief and attitude is what eventually helped us win the title."

Sumit, who suffered a hamstring injury ahead of the FIH Pro League matches against Australia earlier this year, said the lockdown gave the players more time with head coach Graham Reid.

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