Team man to the core, Manpreet ready for fourth Olympic bow

‘’Paddy has been a great help, making us understand the power of positivity. He is also guiding the bunch on how to handle pressure and move on quickly from any mistakes on the pitch as it’s such a fast game,’’ Manpreet noted.  

It was as a 20-year-old that he first wore the blue shirt, and has been part of India’s campaigns through London, Rio and Tokyo — a journey which has taught Manpreet to take the rough with the smooth in his stride. Add to this three Asian Games, which included two gold medals in 2014 and 2022 (which helped India seal a berth for Paris) and an Asia Cup gold medal in 2017 apart from the Champions Trophy and a host of other international caps.

“In the Olympics, you cannot underestimate any team and have to give your best. We have to take it match by match, without thinking too far ahead,’’ is Manpreet’s prescription. Clubbed in pool B with New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland, Belgium and Australia, India need to finish among the top four to qualify for the quarter-finals. The semi-finals and final follow, with the format needing a third-place play-off between the losing semi-finalists to decide the bronze medallist.

After the long tenure of Graham Reid, Manpreet & co. are under a new coach, the South African Craig Fulton. Asked for a peek into the team’s current philosophy, the ever-smiling Manpreet said the name of the game in modern hockey is to strengthen the defence.

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