We are good enough to win a medal at Tokyo Olympics: Sreejesh | Tokyo Olympics News

BENGALURU: PR Sreejesh, who led India to the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is looking to make what could be his last Olympic appearance count.
In an exclusive interview with TOI, the 25-year-old Padma Shri awardee, spoke about his personal aspirations, team’s ambition and the Olympics in the times of the pandemic.
Excerpts:
As the most experienced player, what thoughts are you sharing with the team?
Experience. I have that in abundance and that is what I can share. A majority of my teammates are first-time Olympians. When an athlete enters the pitch, he feels a comfort zone because his Olympic dream has become a reality. This is what I want to tell them, playing an Olympics is important, but that is not your goal. Your goal is to win a medal at the Olympics. The players who go into their second Olympics like me, know the agony of missing out on a medal. I’ve told them let’s push our limits, this time we are good enough to win a medal. Being a goalkeeper, I’ve told myself: NO GOALS!

It is a different Olympics, how will you embrace it?
This Olympics is not a normal Olympics. In the past, it used to be a festival of sport. We exchanged pins and flags with athletes from other countries, took selfies and photographs with heroes and legends of other sports and we socialised as well. But this time, it is all about the team and you. That is a worrying factor and it is all about us 18 players, coaches and support staff. Obviously, the fear of getting infected by Covid-19 and jeopardising the team hangs heavy, but the past 16 months has prepared us well for it. We are probably the only team that has spent in isolation for such a long spell and that may well work to our advantage.
In the pandemic, you didn’t have much specialised training in goalkeeping, did that help you become self-reliant?
Since 2012, we have only had consultant coaches. They have all fine-tuned my basics. But the biggest drawback is that there were no regular follow-ups. I started watching my own videos, rectifying mistakes and talking to our coaches. But there is a limit to self-learning. When I want to talk to a fellow goalkeeper, I turn to Adrian (D’Souza). Adrian’s goalkeeping style is different from mine, but he is a morale booster. Another goalkeeper I interact with is Dutchman Jaap Stockmann, who has always weighed in with his experience. That said, the past 8-9 years have helped me become self-reliant.

In the past 16 months, how much did your habit of reading help you cope with being away from home and in virtual isolation?
Sometimes I miss my family badly. In those weak moments, books come to my rescue because they help me think differently. In the morning, I try to read self-help books and books on meditation.

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