New Delhi: Tushar Khandker is a key component of India's potent strike force to regain Olympic glory in London, and while he oils his stick with the team in Europe, India's opponents need to be wary of this nifty forward weaving his way into the striking circle from the left.
With 219 international caps, Khandker's experience will be crucial to the team's success in London. That, in fact, also gives the star left-out an added responsibility to guide the youngsters in the team. And despite participating in his first Olympic Games, the Jhansi lad is ready to unleash himself on his opponents.
Sharing his thoughts with IBNLive.com from Spain - where the team is playing a few friendly internationals - Khandker throws light on how the team is shaping up two weeks away from its big date.
Talking to IBNLive from Spain, the Indian forward throws light on how the team is shaping up two weeks away from the Olympics.
You are going to be part of your first Olympic Games. In fact, only Sandeep and Ignace have played Olympics before in the current group. Does that make you nervous?
I am not feeling any kind of pressure that I am going to play first time in the Olympics. I know we have got only two players who have played Olympics before, but in our team there are a lot of senior players who have played a lot of international hockey. So for this reason there is no pressure on any player.
The team reached Europe pretty early and will be in London well in advance for the Games. How's the team shaping up with that advantage?
It's good for us that we are here almost for a month before the Olympics. It's helping us in getting used to of this weather and atmosphere, because London [weather] will be almost the same. These matches [in France and Spain] will help us in London because we are playing against top teams in the world.
Shivender, Sunil and you are the best striking combination for India. Do you agree with that?
Yes it's true, but there are other players also, those who are playing well and helping the team, players like Danish [Mujtaba], [Gurwinder Singh] Chandi, [SK] Uthappa and Dharamvir [Singh].
There are quite a few youngsters in the team. Who do you think could turn out to be the new rising Indian star at the Olympics?
There are a few players, like Birendra Lakra, Danish and Manpreet [Singh], I feel.
You all appear pretty fit on the field. Is this group the fittest you have ever been part of? What's the reason behind this supreme fitness?
Yes this is true. I think this is the fittest group. And credit goes to [physical trainer] David John.
Coach Michael Nobbs must be giving you motivational talks for the Olympics. What does he tell you guys?
Before every practice session he talks about the Olympics because it's such a big event and it has got a very different feeling. We have got the chance to prove ourselves and to India what Indian hockey can do.
Finally Tushar, where do you see yourself at the end of the Olympics - on the podium or in the top six? What's the general mood in the team about that?
The mood is good. Every one is motivated and pretty excited to perform well in the Olympics, and if we will play like this, the way we have performed in the last few months, definitely we will get something. I don't know what but we will.