~ With the selection trials underway at SAI Centre, Bengaluru, the experienced forward says there is a lot of excitement within the Olympic Core Group ~

Bengaluru, 09 June 2021: The Indian Men's Hockey Team will begin their campaign in Tokyo on 24 July when they take on New Zealand in their first-round robin league match. To gain the right momentum it will be very important to begin well, believes experienced forward Ramandeep Singh. "A lot will depend on how we fair in the first match. A good result against New Zealand will set the right momentum for the rest of the tournament," he said.  

The Indian Men's Team are grouped in Pool A along with reigning Olympic Champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain and hosts Japan. At the ongoing National Coaching Camp for the Olympic Core Group, the Coaching Staff is replicating an atmosphere of international competition in SAI, Bengaluru where they are playing internal matches as part of the team selection process. "We are currently replicating the Olympic Schedule, three teams with different combinations from within the Olympic Core Group has been formed and the Coaching Staff has created an atmosphere that is similar to what it would be like at the Olympics. We wear the Indian kit, we get ready as though we are facing a tough international opponent, we do team activation (pre-match drills) just like we would before an international game and we also line-up for the national anthem before the start of the match," explained Ramandeep who was part of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 

He further stated that there is a lot of excitement within the Olympic Core Group as the team selection trials is underway. "Of course, there is a lot of excitement within the group, and this exercise of replicating the Olympic schedule is also a good way to test our bodies with two back-to-back games and then a day's rest. We are paying attention on recovery when we have back-to-back matches and so on. Though we missed out on traveling for international matches due to the pandemic, I feel this exercise of playing internal matches is really bringing out the match-mentality to the fore," he said. 

Speaking about his own performance this Olympic cycle, Ramandeep said his knee-injury in 2018 caused a setback to an otherwise good run. "I think 2016 and 2017 for me was really good, I was in good form and was doing really well but the knee injury during Champions Trophy in 2018 was a big setback. It took me about six-seven months to recover and just when I had begun playing, I had an ankle injury. But mid 2019 onwards I have been doing well and I believe I have returned to my old form," stated Ramandeep. 

He was also part of the Indian Team that played in Europe but unfortunately, he suffered a cut on his hand that forced him out of the tour after the first game against Germany where India won 6-1. "I also ended up missing the Argentina Tour due to this minor injury, I was rested for about 15-20 days. But now I feel I am in good nick.," he concluded. 

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