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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

India hockey team feels the heat in Tokyo

With a severe heatwave across Japan, the weather remained topmost in the mind of the men’s team chief coach Graham Reid.

other-sports Updated: Aug 15, 2019 22:37 IST
B Shrikant
B Shrikant
Mumbai
File photo of India hockey coach Graham Reid.
File photo of India hockey coach Graham Reid.(Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
         

A severe heatwave across Japan has already seen deaths and forced Tokyo Olympic organisers to cut events short. So, as the Indian hockey teams gear up for a first-hand feel of the conditions Japan’s capital has to offer one year ahead of the 2020 Games, the weather remained topmost in the mind of the men’s team chief coach Graham Reid.

“At the moment, it is a bit rainy here. But when the sun comes out, it is pretty severe,” Reid told HT in an interview over phone from Tokyo where the Olympic test event begins on Saturday. “It is very hard to predict the weather these days but certainly from the Olympics that I have been to over the years, this feels like it is going to be one of the hotter ones. At the moment, the humidity is very high,” the Aussie added. The 55-year-old, who took over as India coach in April, sees the test event as an opportunity for the players to acclimatise to conditions they are likely to face when the real event takes place next year between July 24 and August 9.

According to the Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency, more than 60 people have died and nearly 20,000 people hospitalised in the country over the last few weeks because of the heatwave. In one week starting July 29, 57 people died and 18,000 were taken to hospitals as the summer heat hit its peak. This is also the time when the Games would be in full swing.

“The heat is certainly quite extreme. So it is a great test for us, but then every team will be facing similar conditions,” Reid said. “The test event will help us match the training facilities we will need (at home) to acclimatise ourselves next year, should we qualify,” said Reid. “But that apart, I don’t think the boys are facing any issues at this moment apart from the usual things when we are on tour—it’s a different place, different culture,” Reid added.

Other than the conditions and getting a feel of the newly-laid turf at the Oi Hockey Stadium, Reid sees the Olympic test event as a chance to try out some young players and develop a leadership group in the team. “It is also an opportunity to look at some of the young players that, as coach, I have not had a chance to see. Also, it gives a couple of others, like (SV) Sunil, an opportunity to show how ready he is (on path to recovery from injury). So that makes it really exciting times.

“The test event will also help us develop our leadership group,” said Reid.

The Indian men’s team will start its campaign against Malaysia on Saturday and will play New Zealand and hosts Japan in round-robin league.

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 22:35 IST

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