New Delhi, March 12: Indian women's hockey team has gone from strength-to-strength in the last four years. The women's hockey team qualified to the Rio Olympics after making their last appearance in the showpiece event back in 1980 Games.
They were knocked out of the quadrennial event from the league stage but showed a lot of promise and have taken an upward curve ever since. Under the leadership of captain Rani Rampal and the watchful eyes of coach Sjoerd Marijne, the Women In Blue have excelled.
Their quarter-final defeat to Ireland in the 2018 World Cup was heartbreaking but this team looks an improved bunch of talented players. Team's goalkeeper Savita Punia believes the team has made a lot of progress over four years and the girls are raring to put up an even better show in Tokyo.
In a small chat with MyKhel on the sidelines of Hockey India's 3rd Annual Awards, Savita revealed the team has worked a lot on fitness and how coach Sjoerd Marijne contributed on raising the bar of Indian women's hockey team and took their game to the next level.
When asked how much the team has changed from previous Olympics to the upcoming one the senior India custodian said, "After the Rio Olympics 2016 we shifted our focus to Tokyo Olympics 2020 because our performance was below expectations there. We as a team were not happy with our efforts in Rio but we have worked a lot in the last four years and the results speak for themselves. We had a good 2019 and hope to carry forward the momentum in 2020.
The 29-year-old revealed under the watchful eyes of coach Marijne the team has worked tremendously on its fitness and that has helped them take their game a notch up.
Talking about the areas the team has progressed, the Haryana girl said, "We have worked a lot on our fitness and attacking hockey. We have put in a lot of effort in our attack and defence which is why we now have a brilliant drag-flicker in Gurjit Kaur."
When asked about the positives from the 2019 season and the recent tour of New Zealand, Savita - who completed 200 international caps during the match against Great Britain in the England tour in 2019 - said, "Our three-match tour of New Zealand was full of positives but there is still room for improvement and our coach Sjoerd Marijne and the coaching staff is working on it."
When asked what has been the inputs of coach for the team for he has been around for quite some time and what are the Dutch's suggestions to her, Savita said, "He especially works on our strength. Skilful hockey has been India's forte and he has focussed a lot on one-to-one hockey. He has worked a lot on the penalty corner, and our attack-defence. He has encouraged me a lot to work on my fitness and that has helped me improve my game."
India women's team was supposed to travel to China but the tour was cancelled following the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The team is practising at a camp in Bengaluru.