It was a sad moment for me when my name was dropped off from the list of the 16-member squad for the Olympics, said defender Varun Kumar while expressing his disappointment on not getting onboard for the most celebrated games.
Although he considers himself fortunate to be called up as an alternate player because of the Covid-19 pandemic and witness the high-spirited bronze medal-winning play. It was his debut in the Tokyo Olympics.
Drag-flicker Varun Kumar and midfielder Simranjeet Singh have made their Olympic debut after both were incorporated into the national squad following the International Olympic Committee’s decision to allow “alternate athletes” in team events due to the ongoing pandemic.
“When the squad for the Olympics was announced, my name was not part of the 16-member squad. I still remember that day very well and I was evidently disappointed,” said Varun as quoted by the Scroll.in.
“But after a few days when the IOC allowed hockey teams to expand to 18 players, Simranjeet and I were called up as alternate athletes. It came as a huge relief but somewhere at the back of my mind I was still upset about not making it to the final 16 and I really wanted to prove myself,” he continued.
Kumar further added that it was skipper Manpreet Singh who helped him to keep his morale high before the team left for Tokyo.
“It really helped that captain Manpreet had a long chat with me and pumped me up mentally. Manpreet has been a big influence in my career from a very young age as we played in the same academy and him talking to me made a lot of difference. I stopped beating myself up for not being good enough to make the 16-member squad. I started focusing on how I can make this opportunity count and deliver when the team needs me,” said Varun.
India’s play at the Tokyo Olympics was stupendous with the men’s team able to clinch an Olympic medal, bronze, after a long wait of 41 years.
Varun played a vital role in the record-making match of India against Argentina. He scored the first goal followed by India’s win over the opponent 3-1. He was attentive backstage and dazzled the viewers with his performance every time he was called up.
“It was indeed a fantastic experience in Tokyo. Winning the bronze and standing on the podium along with my teammates is perhaps the best moment of my life. Now my priority will be to improve in every aspect. We have had a good break after the Olympics and we are all waiting to return to camp in October,” he concluded.