Walmiki (21) helped India win the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy last year with a heroic hat-trick in his team’s 4-2 win over arch rivals Pakistan in the final. He became an important member of the team, but was sidelined with a hamstring injury just before the Olympic qualifiers in February. Walmiki missed the tournament that saw India book a berth for the 2012 London Olympics in emphatic fashion, but he might still get a chance to fulfill his Olympic dream. As luck had it, Gurvinder Singh Chandi’s injury means he gets to fly to Malaysia and prove himself once again.
“It’s a make or break tournament for me. If I want to make it to the Olympic team, I need to score in Malaysia. This will be my first Azlan Shah and also my first tournament in Malaysia,” the striker told MiD DAY, while watching his brother Devinder Walmiki play for Mumbai in the IHF West Zone Senior National Championship, at the MHA Stadium, Churchgate yesterday.
Like the Riverbank Arena in London’s Olympic Park, Azlan Shah will also be played on a blue artificial surface with yellow balls. “As I haven’t played on it yet, I cannot comment. But from outside it looks fine. In Malaysia I will get two days to get used to the turf and I hope to give my best.”