Want to play in Paris Olympics, says hockey goalkeeper Sreejesh

‘The motivation will always be to work hard and give our best’

Indian hockey goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh wants to play in the Paris Olympics but said on Saturday that a lot will depend on his fitness and performance in the run-up to the 2024 Games.

Asked if he would be taking part at the Paris Olympics, Sreejesh said: “No player will say no to an Olympics. The motivation will always be to work hard and give our best. I have had a career of 21 years.

One more match

“I will always want to play one more match, one more Olympics. As long as my team members don’t kick me out, I will stay for sure.”

During the India Today conclave, Sreejesh added: “Nothing is certain in a sportsperson’s life. There can be an injury, performance can go down, others can do better than me.”

Sreejesh’s former teammates Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra and S.V. Sunil retired recently following a successful Olympics campaign.

When India skipper Manpreet Singh was posed the same question, he said: “He is going to Paris from our side. Sreejesh is the best goalkeeper, so we would want him to be there. We have confidence in him but the rest depends on his fitness and other things.”

Sreejesh is confident that both the Indian men’s and women’s teams will make the podium at the 2024 Games, but said the road ahead will be tougher.

“The motivation will always be there to change the colour of the medal in Paris. But the road is not easy. We won a medal 41 years ago and after that Indians sent us to Olympics with a lot of expectations.

“Now that we have proved we can win, the expectations will be higher when we go to Paris. But it won’t be easy, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Sreejesh pulled off a stunning save in the final few seconds of the bronze medal match against Germany at Tokyo.

Recollecting those six seconds, he said: “When we got that PC, our reaction was like what will happen now, it can slip away, but there was not much time to think. We had to defend. I was planning my defensive structure.

“As a goalkeeper I had my own things, to focus and I was just thinking that I have been playing for so many years, so I just have to save this one.”

Turning point

The women’s skipper Rani said the disappointing campaign at the 2016 Rio Games was the turning point.

“For us, 2016 was the first Olympics, we didn’t win any match and I think it was the turning point because we learnt how to handle pressure in such big event and this was a different Olympics because we lost first three matches but still had the self-belief,” she said.

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