Sreejesh led India to the quarter-final in Rio Olympics. However, this could be his last Olympic appearance for the men in blue. Moreover, PR Sreejesh, former captain of the men’s hockey team is confident that the team has the ability to make the best out of the Tokyo Olympics and win a medal for the country. In an exclusive interview with the TOI, the 35-year-old award-winning, Padma Shri spoke about his personal aspirations, team ambition and the Olympics in times of the pandemic.
Sreejesh is full of confidence as he tweeted on 20th July – “I Didn’t Set Out to Beat the World; I Just Set Out to Do My Absolute Best.”
Q. As the most experienced player, what thoughts are you sharing with the team?
Experience. I have that in abundance and that is what I can share. A majority of my teammates are first-time Olympians. When an athlete enters the pitch, he feels a comfort zone because his Olympic dream has become a reality. This is what I want to tell them, playing an Olympics is important, but that is not your goal. Your goal is to win a medal at the Olympics. The players who go into their second Olympics like me, know the agony of missing out on a medal. I’ve told them let’s push our limits, this time we are good enough to win a medal. Being a goalkeeper, I’ve told myself: NO GOALS!
Q. It is a different Olympics, how will you embrace it?
This Olympics is not a normal Olympics. In the past, it used to be a festival of sport. We exchanged pins and flags with athletes from other countries, took selfies and photographs with heroes and legends of other sports and we socialised as well. But this time, it is all about the team and you. That is a worrying factor and it is all about us 18 players, coaches and support staff. Obviously, the fear of getting infected by Covid-19 and jeopardising the team hangs heavy, but the past 16 months has prepared us well for it. We are probably the only team that has spent in isolation for such a long spell and that may well work to our advantage.