Bengaluru, Feb 27: Ace dragflicker Gurjit Kaur believes the Indian women's hockey team is steadily improving with every passing tour and the Rani-led side will peak at the right time during the Tokyo Olympics.
"Our tours and matches are being planned in such a way that we peak at the right time and our performance has been steadily improving," said Gurjit, who has been nominated for the Indian Sports Honour for Sports Woman of the Year (team sport).
They also enjoyed a successful last year as the team booked its ticket to 2020 Olympics, while also scripting creditable victories against quality sides like Spain, Ireland, Japan, China, Korea among other countries. In their tour of New Zealand, India registered wins against the home side's development team, senior team and Great Britain.
"The way we played in the New Zealand tour, we could feel the improvement in our performance especially in comparison to previous year (2018) when we toured New Zealand," Gurjit said.
"The gap was narrowed to one goal from earlier when the goal difference was a lot. We even won big against them. We have been working towards achieving the parameters set by the coaching staff and I believe we are on track to peak at the right time," she added.
The Indian team has been put through the grind at the ongoing national camp here, where chief coach Sjoerd Marijne is making them sweat under sultry summer sun in hope that the players will not wither away in the stark conditions that awaits them in Tokyo during the 2020 Olympic Games.
"During our meetings, we have discussed how the weather will be very challenging in Tokyo," Gurjit said. "It is expected to be over 30-35 degrees when we play in Tokyo and it is also expected to be very humid which is why our training sessions are planned at different times in this camp.
"Usually we would train on the pitch between 8am and 10am in the morning and 4pm to 6pm in the evening but now we train around 12 noon or 2pm under the afternoon sun. The training is intense and it's not easy to keep up speed in these conditions," she explained.
Over the last two years Gurjit has proved to be an important player in the Indian team. While her dragflicking abilities have been rather formidable, she has matured as a defender too. "We had seniors like Sunita Lakra and we have Deep Grace who is now the senior most defender in the team but yes I have had to step-up and take up more responsibility as a defender and I will continue to focus more on my defending abilities," she said.