Hockey bronze is just the beginning, hopes Vivek Sagar | Tokyo Olympics News


CHENNAI: When the India hockey team suffered a humiliating 1-7 defeat to Australia in the Olympics, Vivek Sagar Prasad derived mental strength from his own experiences. Four years ago, the midfielder overcame a life-threatening collarbone injury and other severe complications with his grit and fighting spirit before hitting the restart button. The 21-year-old had then trained under the legendary Ashok Kumar – a 1972 Olympics bronze medallist – before the selectors sent him to the national camp.
However, it wasn’t easy to impress India coach Graham Reid. The Australian felt Vivek, with a height of 5ft 2 in and lean physique, will struggle against the strong and sturdy Europeans and Latin Americans. But Vivek focused on his strengths – swift movements on and off the ball, quick turns and acceleration – to become Indian hockey’s most promising youngster. His crowning moment came when he scored a field goal against Argentina to help India make the quarters in the Olympics.
“During the Olympics, we were not dwelling on the past but focusing on the future. We lost 1-7 but we concentrated on what we can do right. There were 10 players making their Olympics debut. The seniors shared their experiences and said we shouldn’t be happy by just playing a match at the Olympics. They said it was important for the mentality to change and aim for a medal. I also had the experience of losing the semifinals at CWG and Asian Games and drew from my personal experiences. I believed that we should focus on what is in our control and that gave me mental strength to deal with the loss and achieve success,” Vivek said during a virtual media interaction on Thursday.
India won a medal – bronze – after 41 years and Vivek feels the team should aim to raise the bar higher. “While pursuing my dream of hockey, I was being told that we will face failures more often than success. But I hope the bronze medal will usher in a new start for hockey. We will get more support and followers and it will raise our confidence levels. We have set a benchmark now and we will look to raise the bar higher. We stress now on having a winning mindset,” Vivek, who was felicitated by Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan with DSP’s job, Rs 1 crore cash prize and a house, asserted.
The bronze has also increased the expectations on the hockey team and Vivek feels the players need to learn to deal with pressure like the way they did at the Olympics. “At the Olympics, there are a lot of distractions and we had to deal with the expectations of pressure. There were also food distractions. But we had to maintain our diet. The weather was also hot and we had to manage our bodies and rest in our rooms rather than venture out. So we need to follow similar discipline if we want to sustain this success,” he said.


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