High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans says Asian Games gold will boost India’s confidence as they play catch up with leading teams
New Delhi: India's gold medal in the just-concluded Asian Games after a 16-year hiatus has proved that hockey is "still alive and kicking" in the country which has a rich history in the sport, feels High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans.
India's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans (left) dances on arrival from Incheon yesterday. Pic/PTI
A spirited India outclassed arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in a nerve-wrecking shoot-out to regain the Asian Games men's hockey gold medal and also sealed a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Before embarking for the Asian Games, there was immense pressure on highly-paid Oltmans and chief coach Terry Walsh to deliver results, but the legendary Dutchman said the performance in Incheon will definitely silence the critics of hockey.
"I never feel pressure. The word pressure in not in my dictionary. I know my job. I know what I am doing and the same way Terry knows what he is doing. It is important that people have faith in us and let us do our work," Oltmans said.
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who starred in India's gold-medal winning performance in Incheon, is carried by fans at Kochi airport. Pic/PTI
"I hope the gold will silence the critics for quite some time now. This gold proves that hockey is still alive and kicking in this country," he said.
Oltmans, who is in charge of the overall development of Indian hockey, is satisfied with the performance of both the men's and women's teams, which clinched a bronze in the Asian Games but said there is still lots to improve upon.
Indian forwards Ramandeep Singh (left) and Gurvinder Singh Chandi dance on arrival at the IGI airport in Delhi. Pic/PTI
"Of course I'm satisfied with the performances. It is close to maximum. We had a chance to win silver in the women's competition. Both the women's and men's teams created a lot of goal scoring chances which tells that we are going in the right direction. But there are plenty of areas to improve," he said.
The Dutchman, however, warned Indian fans not to get carried away with the Asiad gold as he feels the eight-time Olympic champions have a long way to go to match the likes to Australia, Netherlands and Germany.
"We need to understand that Holland, Germany and Australia are the top three teams and just below them are teams like Argentina, New Zealand, England and we are now a part of the second group."