With an aim to bring back Olympic Glory, the Indian men's and women's hockey teams left from Bengaluru to reach New Delhi where they will join the rest of the Olympic-bound Indian contingent who are scheduled to leave for Tokyo, Japan, on late Saturday evening.
Reflecting on the team's excitement, Indian men's hockey team chief coach Graham Reid said, "The team is absolutely excited. They have all worked really hard for this moment and it is time to convert the sacrifices made over the last couple of months and years into desirable results in Tokyo.
"As I have always said, our aim will be to perform best match-by-match. The team is mentally prepared to face the challenges on and off the field in Tokyo," he added.
The Indian men's team will begin their campaign in Tokyo on July 24 when they take on New Zealand in their first Pool A match.
Their second match will be against the formidable Australians on July 25, followed by match against Spain on July 27 and Olympic Champions Argentina on July 29 and hosts Japan on July 30.
Before taking off, Reid also expressed, "As we leave from Bengaluru, we are filled with gratitude towards the staff at SAI Bengaluru, Sports Authority of India and Hockey India who ensured we got everything needed in the last 15 months while training in a bio-bubble. Hockey India and SAI have been a huge support in our preparations." Sharing Reid's thoughts, women's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said, "It was quite emotional for us when we had our last training session yesterday (Friday) in SAI, Bengaluru. This group is really special. They are very strong mentally and I believe this will be one of our assets when we take on big teams in Tokyo. We are geared up for the challenge." The Indian women's team playing their second consecutive Olympic Games will begin their campaign against the World No.1 Netherlands in their first Pool A match on July 24.
In their second match, the Rani-led side will take on Germany on July 26, followed by Great Britain on July 28 and Ireland on July 30. Their last league match will be against South Africa on July 31.
"I think one of the first big challenges for the team upon arrival in Tokyo will be to get acclimatised as Bengaluru weather was very pleasant these past few weeks. Although we mostly trained in the noon to work under the sun, Tokyo weather will be humid and challenging. No matter the hurdles we may face, the team is optimistic about having a good tournament," Marijne concluded.
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