Kolkata: Former India men’s hockey head coach Rоelаnt Оltmаns has counted on the Men in Blue as one of the medal contenders at the Tokyo Olympics next month. India have been placed in Group A along with hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.
During an insightful interview with the Hockey Indian podcast ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Oltmans emphasized mental strength as the key determinant for any time to succeed at the Tokyo Olympics.
“For me, the Indian men’s hockey team is among the top five contenders to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The team has shown good consistency in competing with the best teams in the world over the last two years. India have already shown they can beat teams like Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands,” said Оltmаns.
“However, doing it at the Tokyo Olympics will be a different matter. The decisive factor when you are trying to win such a tournament is the mentality of the team. You cannot panic if you are behind in a game or get overexcited when you are ahead. You have to be in control of each situation.”
According to the Dutchman, the unnecessary stress is not convincing for the players in any situation. He further pointed out that weather conditions could be another major factor during the Tokyo Olympics since the city would be high on humidity at that time.
“In terms of physical fitness all the top teams in the world are at the same level so no team has an obvious advantage, but the weather conditions will be more favourble for India as they are used to that type of climate. The weather will definitely be harsher for the European teams and they will have to adjust it,” he added.
Oltmans coached India to the 2016 Rio Olympics quarterfinals. Since then, the team have developed a lot, Oltmans affirmed. “Рreраring the teаm to secure a medal at the Tokyo Olympics was always the main objective since I joined as High-Performance Director at Hосkey India in 2013, and then became chief coach of the men’s teаm in 2015,” Oltmans said.
India have made progress in that regard with their current standing and Hockey India created the conditions for this to happen through its professional setup. You need a good development plan, but you also need the resources to execute a plan. Hосkey India and SAI have played a big part in creating and executing this plan to develop hockey in India,” Оltmаns concluded.
India are the most successful team at the Olympics with 11 medals including a whopping eight gold. Their first Olympic gold came in the 1928 Games and till 1960, India were unbeaten at the Olympics winning six gold medals in a row.