New Delhi: Indian men's hockey team Manpreet Singh believes now it's time to stop basking in the glory of the achievement at the Tokyo Olympics, and better start planning for a busy 2022 calendar.
"I think these past few weeks have been great with people showering us with all their love and praises. Now, I feel it's time we rest our bodies and minds. We have enjoyed all the felicitations, the honour and accolades we received has been overwhelming but now we must start thinking about how to better ourselves for the 2022 calendar," Manpreet said in a statement on Monday.
With the all-important Asian Games scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China from September 10-25, 2022, the team's top priority will be to qualify for the Paris Olympics by winning the Gold at the Asian Games.
"Last time, we ended up with a Bronze and lost out on winning the automatic qualification. We were lucky to have the FIH Olympic qualifying matches in India. But we can't depend on the same again. The best would be for us to qualify by winning the Asian Games, so it gives us the right amount of time to prepare for the 2024 Olympics," the captain explained.
Manpreet further expressed that this is a new beginning for Indian hockey with both the men and the women's teams doing well at the Olympics.
He believes the support they have garnered following this historic feat - the men's team won a bronze medal in Tokyo -- will only increase the popularity of the sport.
"I truly feel this is a new beginning for Indian hockey. With the women's team, too, doing so well at the Olympics, hockey is witnessing the same kind of support it once had. I was told many people from different professions woke up early to see our matches just like they would back in the glory days when Indian hockey fans would stay glued to the radio to hear the commentary."
"I feel this fanbase we have earned after the Olympics is great for the sport in general and now it is on us to give these fans bigger and better feats to ensure their support continues and the popularity of hockey grows further," he concluded.