By Nitin Srivastava
Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], June 11 (ANI): India women's hockey team skipper Rani Rampal is confident that Japan will stage the upcoming Tokyo Olympics safely.
Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 and the Games will run up to August 8. The event was slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rani revealed that it wasn't easy for her as an athlete to wait for one more year when Tokyo Olympics were postponed in 2020. The Indian women's skipper will miss the fans this year but she knows that the crowd will be cheering for the side.
"We will miss the fans as fans give you different types of energy. You get motivated when playing in front of the fans but we know they will cheer for us from home," Rani told ANI.
"It was a sad moment for an athlete when Olympics were postponed last year. And it wasn't easy to push for one more year mentally and physically for a player but then health was of prime importance.
"Situation is now quite good compared to what it was last year. Japan is an organised country and they will stage the Olympics safely. Players are waiting for Olympics eagerly. I am confident that Japan government will conduct well-planned Olympics," she added.
Several hockey players including Rani had tested positive for the coronavirus upon return from their respective hometowns to their training base at SAI Bengaluru in April.
All the players and support staff were asymptomatic and were isolated before they recovered from COVID-19.
Sharing her experience about the same, Rani said," Definitely, it was a difficult period, everyone is going through a difficult phase for the last 1-1.5 years because no one in the past has faced something like this."
"For us as athletes, it was difficult, our 8-9 players ended up testing positive for COVID-19 including me. Being in quarantine is not easy, your fitness lags behind. Hockey is an intense game and it takes time for athletes to come back.
"It was a difficult period, there was anxiety among everyone. Our staff helped us and they ensured that we stay healthy. Slowly, we started training and now we are fully recovered," she added.
Rani also said despite having taken COVID-19 vaccination players must follow all necessary precautions.
"Vaccination is important for all of us and you still need to take necessary precautions. Hockey India and SAI have assured players get the vaccine," she said.
Talking about the team's preparation for Tokyo Olympics, Rani said,"The mood within the camp is nice, we are going through intense training sessions. We have taken into account how the conditions in Tokyo might be. We train under severe heat conditions. There is severe humidity in Tokyo so we are preparing ourselves to tackle that.
"The team is undergoing high-intensity training to compensate for the time we lost when we had tested positive for coronavirus.
"Warm-up games are important since we are not getting many matches to play. So we plan our training schedules accordingly to train at a high intensity," she said.
Rani said the side will take one match at a time and their first focus will be to reach the quarterfinals.
"We will take one match at a time in Tokyo Olympics. We will also have to change our approach as different teams have different styles of play. First, our focus will be to qualify for the quarterfinals," Rani signed off. (ANI)