The Indian men’s and women’s hockey team captains, Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal, have written an open letter to the “Indian hockey fans around the globe”, saying that being in Tokyo for the Olympics was an emotional moment given the “obstacles” they faced along the way.
The Indian hockey contingents were part of the first batch of athletes to leave the country from the IGI Airport in New Delhi and arrived in Tokyo on Sunday morning.
“We are elated to share with all of you that the women’s and men’s Indian teams have safely arrived in Tokyo. This is an emotional moment for the whole group because there have been many obstacles along the way to get here. There were times when it appeared that the whole competition may be in doubt due to the circumstances in the world. Now that we are here, we feel like we are within touching distance of the dream that we have harboured for the last five years,” the two captains wrote in the letter on Tuesday.
“In hockey, just like an individual is incomplete without the support of their team, a team is similarly incomplete without the support of the backroom staff that has prepared the team. We would like to thank the coaching staff and the support staff that has enabled us to get here. Our performances on the pitch are owed to these dedicated members working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that we become the best that we can be.”
Highlighting the problems the teams faced due to the new normal, the captains said that while it was tough to stay away from families and to spend most of the time at the Sports Authority of India training centre in Bengaluru, it had also brought the players closer.
“In recent months, our teams have spent a lot of time amongst our own group due to the new reality of living and training in a secure bio-bubble. All the time that the players have spent in each others’ company on and off the field have brought our respective teams closer together than ever before. Each of us has grown as a hockey player and as an individual in life because of the challenging situations that we have dealt with. It is a privilege for the both of us to lead our respective teams into the Olympics. This is an honour that counts among our finest personal achievements in hockey.
“Representing one’s country in the Olympics is one of the proudest and most special moments in any sportsperson’s career. A large part of this feeling stems from the fact that the athlete shares this exhilarating experience with all the people of their country. Long before either of us was an Olympian, we were just excited kids who would tune in to watch their heroes represent India at the biggest competition in the world every four years. Now that we have been able to reach here, we understand just how much the support and blessings of every single fan back home counts. It drives us on and gives us the strength to fight for our goals,” they wrote.
“We promise you that we will value each and every minute of this prestigious tournament to make you all proud.”