Mission Tokyo: No Sweets, Spicy Food for India Women’s Hockey Team
Players of the India women’s hockey team have been instructed to not indulge in their favourite spicy dishes as well as sweets as part of their strict diet which is aimed to maximise their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
Confident after their title win in the FIH Hockey Series in Hiroshima last month, the India women’s team is practicing rigorously for the final Olympic qualifier which is to be held in November.
Captain Rani Rampal claims that this is the fittest the India team has been in a long time and praised the scientific adviser, Wayne Lombard, for the change.
“I can say that this is the fittest Indian women hockey team I have ever seen. Wayne has been working very hard on each individual and the team. We all are following his diet plans and results are for everyone to see. He says that if we want to do well on field, we have to take a healthy diet.”
They do cheat on their dietary regimen, but not on a regular basis.
"I was craving for rajma chawal made by my mother when we came back from Japan. He allows us to cheat on diet plan once in a while but not on a regular basis," she said in a lighter vein.
India's best performance in Olympics was at the 1980 Moscow Games when they finished fourth. That was also the Olympic debut of women's hockey. The team, then, had to wait for 36 years to qualify for Olympics and finished 12th in Rio in 2016.
When asked if they are hopeful to win the medal, Rani replied in the positive.
"First of all, we have to qualify and I am sure we will. We have the potential to win the medal. In world hockey today, rankings don't matter and except Netherlands, any team can beat any team on their day. So, I am very optimistic about our chances," said the veteran striker, who was the player of the tournament in the FIH World Series.
She also said that the hockey players are inspired by the recent performances of the athletes Hima Das and Dutee Chand.
When asked about the ongoing camp in Bengaluru, she said that apart from technical things, the focus is on team-bonding and decision-making both on and off the field.
"We had a fruitful camp with legendary defender Fargus Kavanagh. We are working on defense, attack, penalty corner and team-bonding. We are also learning to take quick decisions on and off the field," she added.
India will play a four-nation tournament in Tokyo next month, where Australia and England will be the other teams, apart from the hosts Japan. After that, the team will play a Test series against England.
(This piece has been edited for clarity.)
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