New Delhi: Ending a dry spell of 32 years without an Olympic medal is a task that Bharat Chetri and his team will have to endure at the London Games. While the enormity of the job is not unknown, India somehow have managed to string together a team of 16 men who seem capable to improve dramatically if not turn the tide into a medal.
Skipper Chetri is not unaware either, but he feels the attacking intent coach Michael Nobbs has brought back will make a huge difference when India take field in London.
Bharat, India are making a comeback at the Olympics with you as the lead, plus we are medal-less for the last 32 years. Does that put you under added pressure?
There is no added pressure. The whole team is united and takes pride in helping each other out. That helps me as a leader and is important for any team to perform well at a big stage like the Olympics.
How prepared is the team to play the Olympics and what are its strengths?
We have improved quite a lot and this European tour in particular is helping us to get everything in order for London, especially acclimatising to the European conditions. So we are well prepared for the challenge. Overall the whole team is good. The forward line and the midfield is playing good hockey. We are working on the defence, which is looking good as well now.
What do you think has helped the Indian team improve in the last year?
[Coach] Michael Nobbs has changed the face of Indian hockey; he has made the difference. He has trained us in playing attacking hockey, which is how the game is now being played the world over. He has brought that attacking intent back into the team. Plus, [physical trainer] David John has played an important role in making the team fitter. If the team is not fit, it can't perform. So that has also made a big difference.