Rio de Janeiro: “Bitterly disappointed” withthe Indian women’s hockey team’s tame ouster from the Olympics medal contention, coach Neil Hawgood said the side lacks players who are quick on their feet. Indian Eves were hammered 0-5 by Argentina -their third defeat in a row. The Indians logged just one point by virtue of their draw against Japan in the opening match, during their historic Games participation for the first time since Moscow 1980.
“We have fast hands but not necessarily fast feet. And that’s a change that people have to embrace. You could have the world’s best, most talented, most skillful player but if they can’t run, the game has already gone past that,” Hawgood said. “But the style of player has to change and we have to accept that everyone has 5ft 9in (1.75m), 5ft 10in (1.78m), 5ft 11in (1.80m) fast athletes. We don’t have those fast athletes. “It’s served its purpose up until now, but can we change these people? Or do we have to find something new? They’re the things that have to happen over the next two years before you push on to the next Olympics.” On how he hopes India will respond to the team’s performance, the coach said: “I hope they respond really well. I walk away from it bitterly disappointed but there are times when you say, ‘Well you girls can play’. And I hope the country appreciated that.” Asked to sum up India’s performance at their first Olympic Games since the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, Hawgood said, “I think there are stages when we can compete and then there are stages when we don’t compete. “If you haven’t done something for 36 years and you get thrown in the cauldron, I’m not sure what you actually expect. I was hoping we could get the result.” “I think whoever takes it (the coaching role, which he hopes to keep) has got to understand that there has to be a total change of direction, and thought about it. “This was a group put together and conceived to try and get to an Olympics. In the end that goal was achieved. We had a chance today to make a quarterfinal and we didn’t realise that goal and that’s disappointing,” the coach said.
Indian player Poonam Rani said the team understood the immense pressure of competing in the Olympics. “Now we know what the pressure of Olympics is and what is required. Now we can go back to India and work on our mistakes that we made here. “It starts again for four years, for 2020 (the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games). We know our Olympics is finished now and it’s really upsetting because it is four years of hard work and we just gave them (Argentina) the simplest of five goals. I think we can compete with them.” PTI
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