Bengaluru, June 30 (IANS) Men's hockey team midfielder Hardik Singh said on Wednesday that the "fighting spirit" built over the last few months was one of the key reasons for India's resurgence in the sport, and that the country now has a "very strong" bench strength as it prepares for the Olympics.
Hardik, who is a part of the Tokyo Olympic Games-bound 16-member squad, said," It now feels great to be a regular part of the team, well equipped in the midfield. There is a lot of competition for places in the midfield, but that only shows that our bench strength is very strong. We have built that fighting spirit over the past few months, and that is one of the key reasons for our resurgence."
The 22-year-old midfielder, who will be making his Olympics debut, added that he wanted to continue his family's hockey legacy by giving his "100 per cent" at the Games.
"I will give my 100 per cent to carry on with my family's legacy and make the country proud. My grandfather used to be a hockey coach in the Indian Navy. He was the one who helped me pick up the sport and understand the basics of the game. I started playing on the field almost immediately and enjoyed the practice sessions," said Hardik, who is a fifth-generation hockey player in the family.
A regular feature in the team since the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, Hardik added that his uncle, former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh, had played a key role in his career.
"When 19, I was on the verge of giving up on my dream of playing for India. But, it was Jugraj uncle who motivated me to stay focused on national team selection. I had almost decided to move to the Netherlands to play club hockey. Jugraj paaji has been a huge influence in my life. He has mentored me in every part of my life and continues to do so," said the midfielder.
"I followed his suggestions, and finally, my hard work paid off as I was included in the core probable for the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy."